Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts
Showing posts with label book review. Show all posts

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


I figured if I can't have honeybees right now it doesn't mean I can't have another type of bee.  According to my beekeeping friend Dave  it is a little late in the season to get going with Mason Bees so I'm going to give bumble bees a try.  A while back, after my beekeeping course, my oldest daughter decided she wanted to try keeping bumble bees.  She's always had a fascinating relationship with bumbles.  When she and I took a class at a local nature center 14 years ago we learned the difference between bees, wasps and hornets, which ones are aggressive and which ones aren't, etc... After that time she's always handled bumble bees.  She mostly likes to stroke their backs when they are busy working a flower.  Since she is so brave and had a real interest we ordered Marla Spivak's book: Befriending Bumble Bees.

Maya, my daughter, caught a bunch of bumbles initially but we were unsure in our ability to determine which ones were queens so she'd always let them go.  Well, since I'm bee-less I've decided to give the bumbles another try. With bumbles I won't have to worry about swarm management and worried neighbors, I'll just be able to still enjoy having a relationship with bees.

Now all I need is a bumble bee to show up.  They are late this year.

Wish me luck! :D

Sunday, April 15, 2012


I just finished reading Rez Life by David Treuer and wanted to share my thoughts on it.

David Treuer is a member of the Ojibwe tribe from the Leech Lake Reservation here in Minnesota. As I understand, this is the authors first full length work of nonfiction. Out of all the books I've read either written by or about Native Americans I found this one to be the most thorough when it came to describing not only the Native experience on the reservation but the historical perspective as well. Treuer does an excellent job educating the reader on Treaty rights, Tribal government, Sovereignty and the Gaming industry. He doesn't hold back on any front; shares the good and bad about his own people, exposes the numerous injustices against tribes not only by the American Government in history but by government and individual people today. I definitely came away from this book with a better understanding of what it must be like to grow up on a reservation and why so many Native Americans have an innate distrust of white people.

The only issue I had with the book is the author using the word "greed" to describe members of the Mdewakanton tribe. Now of course I'm not Native American. I don't have an insiders perspective when it comes to the gaming industry or "blood quantum" but I do know tribal members and I have to say this.

In the book David Treuer talks about Mdewakanton Sioux having 250 enrolled members and states that the tribe excludes 20,000 eligible enrollees (according to blood quantum rules in the books). He said that the 20,000 have appealed to the tribe and been rejected so many of them have now brought lawsuits against the Mdewakanton Sioux. He goes on to mention that the Mdewakanton members each make $80,000/month from casino profits and if they were to allow the additional members into the tribe it would cut their share of revenue to $1,000 each/month. He concludes with "they are as greedy as any other Americans."

I won't debate that Native Americans can be greedy because some most certainly are, as are European Americans, Mexican Americans, Asian Americans, African Americans, so on and so forth; greed exists within all groups of people. I will take issue though with the impression the authors statement leaves on the reader.

There is more to the limited member allowance than David Treuer would like to acknowledge or maybe is aware of. Without going into too much detail I will give an example of what I'm referring to:

You are a family of 10, with 2 parents and 8 children. There are 4 boys and 4 girls. Your family is extremely poor. You live on 10 acres of land. Mom and dad ask all of their children to help with the land by planting, harvesting, tending to the animals, etc... but only 2 boys and 2 girls stick around to help out. The other 4 children leave the family to pursue other interests and don't return, even though they are well aware that the rest of the family is working hard to survive on those 10 acres and is in desperate need of their help. One day the family living on 10 acres discovers gold on their property and becomes filthy rich; they can have anything they've ever dreamed of. When the 2 boys and 2 girls that left the family hear of the great news they rush back home looking to cash in along with their parents and siblings that spent years taking care of each other. Do you think the kids that returned home deserve a cut of the profits just because they are related? I personally don't.

I think that David Treuer was focussing on legalities and facts, which a good journalist will do. His book is definitely the best I've read on Native issues and he certainly did his research but unfortunately there are people that reach for these books as a way to understand the Native experience and referring to people as "greedy" doesn't help matters especially when describing a tribe like the Mdewakanton. Last year the Mdewakanton donated $30 million to various groups throughout the United States. $12 million went to "the University of minnesota to help build its football stadium and fund scholarships" and "in a move to address the gross imbalance that exists in casino prosperity between metro-fringe tribes and those in more remote spots $1 million grants were given to tribes in Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Montana and North Dakota." (Star Trib. 4/15/12) So I think we need to be careful when putting "greed" and Mdewakanton in the same sentence.

Other than that one little tid bit, I highly recommend this book.

Monday, February 13, 2012



I'm not ready to give a full review on this yet. I've read it cover to cover but it really isn't that type of book. Inside are all these little tasks that I have yet to do. Each chapter has a set of random questions pertaining to a particular topic that I've not answered yet. Let's just say, it is a process.

I'm trying to regain my creative spark and I thought/think this book might help. Oddly, it does seem to be good for me. Just going over what might have caused some of my "blocks" and being forced to think about it has made a difference.

Right now I'm working on rule #1Artist's Pages and rule #2Artist's Dates. The book says I need to write three pages of free flowing thought every day. I'll be honest...I got a bit lazy on that one. I'm starting over again tomorrow. The Artist's Date is much more of a challenge. The book says I need to take one day a week, about one hour, and devote it to myself. No family, no friends, no anything social. A walk in the park, a bike ride, visit a museum, etc... but nothing that really involves interaction. Well, I like being with my kids and my husband so for me to go anywhere alone is an effort so we'll just call that one a work in progress.

I'm being optimistic though. I'm telling myself that I'll complete the book and magically turn into a fantastic writer with tons of words to fill all the empty pages on my desk.

That was rule #3: Positive Self-Talk :)

Sunday, March 6, 2011


Several years ago I picked up some protein powder and as usual, read the label. I was looking for things like fat grams, sugar, etc.. What I saw was "no GMO's." No GMO's? When you see something like that on a food label you have to wonder what it means. Clearly if the label says it doesn't have it then it must be a bad thing, right? Well, I was content just knowing there were no GMO's in my protein powder, whatever that meant.

Fast forward a few more years and I'm eating a papaya in Oahu. The best damn papaya I've ever eaten. I don't like the Mexican variety because, in my opinion, it smells like feet, but Hawaiian papaya smells like a sweet flower and tastes wonderful. It wasn't long before I became addicted, eating about a dozen in one week. A couple years later I returned to Oahu to discover you couldn't find a single papaya anywhere :( I inquired at a grocery store as to the whereabouts of this succulent fruit and the grocery clerk tells me they were removed because there was a protest over them being genetically modified. What the hell does that mean? (I wondered that, didn't say it out loud).

I don't remember how I acquired my knowledge on GMO's at that point but I was way off base. I initially believed that GMO's were hybrids. Hybrids being crossbred/pollinated. You take the best characteristics from one plant and insert it into another to create a desirable quality. Why would people have a problem with that, especially since cross pollination can even happen in nature. Well, I finally get it.

In the past year I've been learning quite a bit about Genetically Modified Organisms. GMO's and Hybrids are not one in the same. To create a hybrid plant, non invasive methods of cross pollination are used. To create a genetically modified plant scientists alter the DNA of a particular plant. The purpose of GMO's is to create a hardier plant, one resistant to disease and pests. Sounds great on the surface but beneath it is very detrimental to our health.

In 1998 Dr. Arpad Pusztai, a world expert on plant lectins, was petitioned to study GMO's. During his research, after feeding GMO potatoes to rats, he found that the potatoes had a negative affect on the rats stomach lining and immune system. When he released his findings he was suspended and lost his contract.

Now I won't go into detail about how government is in bed with Monsanto, the creator of these GMO patented seeds, or how half of the former Monsanto employees now work for the FDA, if you want to learn all about that insanity I suggest you read the book "Seeds of Destruction." Warning: You will lose sleep.

Monsanto developed rBGH, that lovely hormone that is injected into dairy cows to make them produce more milk faster than normal. Thanks to this quick over production of milk, cows developed infections that needed to be treated with antibiotics. Now our non-organic milk varieties are full of hormones and antibiotics.

What I want you to know is simple.

1. The FDA isn't regulating Monsanto
2. GMO's have not been thoroughly tested for safety.
3. There are many countries around the world that have banned GMO's.
4. You are eating GMO's every day unless you eat 100% organic.
5. These genetically modified crops will put our organic farms at risk.
6. Monsanto is sucking the life out of small farmers.

For now, it doesn't look like GMO's are going anywhere. They are much like the tobacco industry, big and powerful but when they fall they fall hard... and they will fall. To start, we need to begin with labeling. We as consumers have a right to know what is in the food we buy. If we don't demand to know then we are no different than cows being lead to a slaughter house. Let President Obama know that you have a legal right to make an informed decision about your food:

Sign Letter to the President HERE

Say No to GMO's
Non-GMO Project
What are GMO's
Calling all activists: Truth in Labeling Campaign

Friday, January 7, 2011


I was doing some research on the chemical preservative phenoxyethanol when I came across the book "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" by Gagik Melikyan, a must read for anyone who makes, sells or buys body products. (yes I bought and read it)

Small Bio on Gagik Melikyan:
Gagik Melikyan is a Professor of Chemistry in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at California State University Northridge in Los Angeles. He is a nationally and internationally recognized expert in the field of radical chemistry. Being a highly cited author, his research has culminated in 76 papers, reviews and book chapters on radical organic and organometallic chemistry, transition metal-mediated chemical transformations, computational chemistry, natural products syntheses, anticancer drug development, and non-steroidal hormones. A devoted educator and scientist who was awarded the Outstanding Faculty and Polished Apple Awards, he has educated and trained a whole generation of professionals working in the fields of chemistry, biology, and medicine. For many years he was involved, as an expert, in protecting the American public from harmful chemicals and environmental pollutants.

In his book, he not only covers the dangers of certain chemicals in cosmetics, including parabens, but he also talks about antioxidants, foods and supplements.

He claims to have written "Guilty Until Proven Innocent" after receiving numerous questions from his students on the latest "hot topics" like the use of parabens in cosmetics. He wanted to write a book for the layman to read and understand.

“My concern is that people might be exploiting the public’s ignorance of a purely scientific issue, so I have written my book in the easiest terms possible so that the general public with no scientific background can understand it,” he said.

You can find more information here about why Gagik wrote this book: CLICK HERE FOR FULL DETAILS

Excerpt from
An extraordinary book that provides compelling evidence that antioxidants, foods, supplements, cosmetics, and natural compounds can be harmful to the human body. It arms a layperson with the critical knowledge that will allow him/her to make educated choices and protect themselves and beloved ones from potentially hazardous substances.

The book is well written and although chemistry can be difficult to grasp the author does a great job of breaking down the science and making it as understandable as possible for the lay person.

A few quotes on parabens from the book:

"The accumulation in the breast tissue, in particular in the breast cancer tissues, was experimentally established, and third, their estrogenicity, an ability to mimic natural estrogen, was also demonstrated. If all these data are not enough to raise a red flag, then what else can?"

"From a business point of view, it is understandable that products need to be protected from premature spoilage. The question is, "What is the price that consumers have been paying for it?"

He goes on to discuss what happens to chemicals when they enter the body. It is a very profound read for anyone who has taken the lack of oversite from the FDA on the cosmetic industry seriously.

I appreciate this authors unbiased research and delivery of information to the public, the following quote says a great deal about his integrity:

"It is never easy to go against the flow, but I decided to do that because I consider it to be my civic duty, as a scientist," says Professor Melikyan.

Hopefully he's educating many more scientists like himself :)

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


In my opinion, and this will probably rub some beeks the wrong way, I believe there are two kinds of beekeepers; those that have an emotional connection with their honeybees and those that don't. I'm not using this post to judge, I'm just stating what I believe is the obvious.

I was reading then participating in a discussion on the beesource forum where the topic posted was "kill off your bees/colony" and the poster wanted to know how to kill off their hive instead of trying to overwinter them. The discussion that resulted came down to those who are against killing off bees and those who are either proponents of killing or don't find anything wrong with it. I think anyone who reads my blog would know where I stand on the subject of killing ones own bees.

So... I am reading this book written by William Longgood and I happen to come upon the chapter in which he talks about this type of beekeeping just days after debating the kill or not kill topic on the beesource. At one point he is quoted saying "I faced a dilemma common to people who try to manage nature, when human values conflict with nature's unsentimental imperatives. That is the part of beekeeping that I dislike and often it gets in the way. Is it more merciful to kill outright or to let creatures perish slowly and possibly painfully through want of their own kind and their own elementary biological needs? The manager becomes an arbiter of life and death. I was forced to confront a decision that was distasteful to me." As I suspected. the author doesn't disappoint, he chooses the emotional over the logical.

I use the word "logical" loosely. Killing off your own bees can be logical if you see beekeeping as pure business and nothing else but if you have any emotional connection to your bees at all you wouldn't think of killing them as logical at all. Logic isn't something an emotional beekeeper can make peace with, at least not right away. People keep bees for various reasons, some do it for the honey, others for the beeswax, and quite a few people do it out of pure fascination with bees. If you are fascinated at all by the life cycle of bees and you derive more pleasure from watching them work together as a colony than you would from extracting honey, then you would never take the "logical" approach of killing them off because it doesn't make for good nighttime sleeping.

There is an intolerance amongst beekeepers as there is with people in most aspects of life. I'll be the first to admit, I don't want to make nice with the commercial beekeeper who lit his hive on fire just because they didn't give him any honey, actually, I'd prefer never to meet such a person and I'm sure the feeling would be mutual... he wouldn't want to make nice with someone who mourns the death of a single bee. But... the point of this post isn't to slag off those who have a different beekeeping style than I do, it is purely a book review and plug.

The "Queen Must Die" is the best beekeeping book I've read thus far. William Longgood has taken the logical parts of beekeeping and exposed its emotional side. He has dissected every aspect of the hobby/business and his heart is open in every word he uses to describe these beautiful insects. As an emotional beekeeper, it is nice to see someone put into words what is so hard to convey to those who don't keep bees or those who don't care if they live or die. Plus the fact that you walk away from this book with the sense that humans could learn a thing or two from bees in how we function as a society. Longgood covers a lot of ground in this book so I recommend putting it on your reading list if you aren't the one burning your hives in the fall ;)

Bees are more than a hobby; they are a life study, in many respects a mirror of our own society." ~William Longgood

Thursday, June 25, 2009


There is a new magazine coming out to help out all those urban farmer's or wanna be urban farmers. It is suppose to hit the newstands this month (I'm counting down the clock til I can run and buy mine). CLICK HERE to learn more about this new magazine.

Look for a preview of Urban Farm™ in the July/August issue of Hobby Farms, in your mailbox or on the newsstands in June.

Look for the Premiere issue of Urban Farm™ on the newsstands August 25, 2009.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


I have this whole "spring renewal" thing going on for myself and part of that includes challenging myself to do things I know are difficult. I love to read but have a tendency to buy books I think are interesting and then place them on the bookshelf. I've accumulated 3/4 of Barnes & Noble and really need to read my books before I buy anymore, so I've decided to take the 100 Book Challenge listed over on J. Kaye's Book Blog.

If you'd like to join the challenge you can find the rules on J. Kaye's Blog.

My list of books is not complete but here are the books I plan on reading so far:

1. The Real Witches Handbook
2. Intuition by Osho
3. Art of Happiness by Dalai Lama
4. Home Enlightenment by Annie B. Bond
5. The Good Heart by the Dalai Lama
6. 151 Quick Ideas to recognize and reward employees by Ken Lloyd
7. The Backyard Beekeeper Kim Flottum
8. Eastern Body Western Mind by Anodea Judith

I still have to list 92 books.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007


I was looking for a book on barnes & nobles site for my daughter who does melt & pour soaps and I came across this list of mystery books. I'm loving the titles and the cover art. If anyone has read these please post a review.

Tim Myers Flicker of Doubt: A Candlemaking Mystery

Tim Myers Dead Men Don't Lye

Cleo Coyle Murder Most Frothy: A Coffeehouse Mystery

Elizabeth Bright Deadly Greetings: A Card-Making Mystery

Tim Myers A Mold for Murder

Time Myers A Pour Way to Dye: A Soapmaking Mystery