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33 Reviews Posted This Week

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

A Plague of Angels by Sherri S. Tepper

If Nuns Ruled the World by Joy Piazza

Noah’s Wife by T.K. Thorne


Still Reading This Week

1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus by Charles C. Mann


“In this groundbreaking work of science, history, and archaeology, Charles C. Mann radically alters our understanding of the Americas before the arrival of Columbus in 1492.Contrary to what so many Americans learn in school, the pre-Columbian Indians were not sparsely settled in a pristine wilderness; rather, there were huge numbers of Indians who actively molded and influenced the land around them. The astonishing Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan had running water and immaculately clean streets, and was larger than any contemporary European city. Mexican cultures created corn in a specialized breeding process that it has been called man’s first feat of genetic engineering. Indeed, Indians were not living lightly on the land but were landscaping and manipulating their world in ways that we are only now beginning to understand. Challenging and surprising, this a transformative new look at a rich and fascinating world we only thought we knew. ” from Goodreads

Almost Done Listening To


Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's LanguagesTrip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little


“Though we’re known as a nation of English speakers, the linguistic map of the United States is hardly monochromatic. While much ado has been made about the role that Spanish may play in our national future, it would be a gross misrepresentation to label America a bilingual country. On the contrary, our languages are as varied as our origins. There is Basque in Nevada, Arabic in Detroit, Gullah in South Carolina. We speak European, Asian, and American Indian languages; we speak creoles, jargons, and pidgins. As a resident of Queens-among the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse places on the planet-Elizabeth Little first began to wonder how this host of tongues had shaped the American experience. It was only a matter of time before she decided to take her questions on the road.” from Goodreads.

I have seriously stocked up on books from the library because I have some time off this week.  I’m not sure why I did that.  I basically have Christmas Eve and Christmas Day off and then I have to go to family stuff for the weekend.  Not really prime reading time.

A Plague of Angels Book Cover A Plague of Angels


Atop a twisting, canyon-climbing road, a witch lurks in a fortress built strong enough to keep out dragons and ogres. In an enchanted village, a young orphan is maturing into a beautiful woman. A young man seeks adventure in the big city after running away from his family and their small farm. Now a strange and terrible prophecy will set off a chain of events that will bring these three together, in a tale of heroism, romance and an age-old battle. But this is not the fantasy world you expect. The Place of Power is manned by strange, robotic creatures who leak radiation. The Archetypal Village knows what is expected of it, as do the inhabitants. In the city, gangs battle with guns and bombs. And the prophecy may lead to death for all.

When I was researching another post I found out that Sherri Tepper was releasing a new book.  She doesn’t do that often anymore so I was excited.  It is the third in the series with A Plague of Angels and The Waters Rising.  I had read both of those books and they weren’t my favorites of hers.  I didn’t realize they went together.  In my defense they were published years apart and I had forgot the plot of the first long before I read the second.  I decided to go back and read those two again before reading the new book in order to put it in proper context.

Tepper’s books are so hard to summarize.  It all goes together in the book but when you try to explain that there are archetypal villages and gang-run cities and a pastoral civilization and a village based around an old nuclear reactor run by a crazy woman who has an army of malfunctioning androids, you sound like a loon.  That’s before you add in the talking animals.

There are always images in her books that stay with me.  In this one it was the Sisters of the Trees.  The story takes place in a future southwest U.S. after an ecological disaster.  These women plant trees wherever they can.  They have to plant 10,000 trees just to be able to call themselves part of the Sisterhood. They aren’t centralized.  They are just individual women restoring the land one tree at a time.

I was at the library the other day and the new book was there.  My hand hovered over it but I didn’t pick it up.  I’m going to read The Waters Rising first.


I have a reputation at work of being a bit of a cat whisperer when it comes to blood draws.  It started when one of the techs adopted a sick cat who they were afraid to restrain for bloodwork because she had breathing problems.  I held her and kissed her on the nose at one point.  This flummoxed the staff and they compared it alligator wrestling. I believe this is the type of image they had in mind.

From here

Since that day I have occasionally been asked to alligator wrestle a cat for a blood draw. I hope clients don’t hear them say that. They would probably think of a fight to the death instead of me cuddling a kitty and kissing them on the nose.

So, the other day, they wanted me to hold this cat.  They grabbed me while I was on my way to the next appointment.  It was a 15 year old cat but he didn’t look his age.  One tech assured me that he almost broke her wrist when they tried to restrain him. I’m not entirely sure how that is possible but ok.  I went in the room and he was laying on the table as relaxed as can be.

I said, “What’s the matter, Chief?  Are these awful people being mean to you?”  Scoffing all around from the four people in the room – 2 techs, one tech student, and an assistant.  I cuddled the kitty and said ok.  They assured me that he would soon blow.  “Is that true, Chiefy?” I murmured.  They located the vein and prepared to insert the needle.

“Seriously, he hasn’t shown his true self yet.  Are you ready?”  I was asked.

I nuzzled the top of his head.  “He’s a good Wittle Chiefy.”

The blood was pulled and Wittle Chiefy never even flicked a whisker.  I picked him up and hugged him and told him he was the best Wittle Chiefy ever while the staff made gagging noises, told me that they hated me, and told the student all the ways that what I had just done was so entirely wrong and liable to get someone killed someday.

I smiled beatifically at them all and left.  I was surprised he was so good too but never miss the opportunity to have the staff think you are magical.

I went to the next appointment – a dog named Chief.  Um….  When I finished I went back to the people who had been in room with the cat.  “Hey, you guys let me call that cat Chief the entire time and that was the name of the next patient – not his.”

“Yeah, we knew that but it was working for you.”

From this I can deduce a few things:

  1. Either that cat had always wanted to be called Chief and was glad that someone had finally recognized that, or
  2. He figured I was a crazy person because I called him the correct name during his exam with his owner but as soon as he was in the back I was renaming him so he’d better just go with the flow.

That cat will always and forever be known now as Wittle Chiefy no matter what his given name is.

Noah's Wife Book Cover Noah's Wife

Teresa K Thorne

ForeWord Reviews 2009 Historical Fiction BOOK OF THE YEAR.

A novel set in 5500 BCE can’t possibly relate to today’s issues— or can it?

Dysfunctional family relationships • Sexual abuse Kidnapping • Love triangle Religious freedom • Autism • Cultural Change

This award-winning novel touches all of these issues with wisdom and humor.

From the perspective of a young girl with what is now known as Aspergers, Thorne weaves twists into the Biblical story, entwining myth, history, and archeological findings with her vivid imagination.

Na’amah wishes only to be a shepherdess on her beloved hills in ancient Turkey— a desire shattered by the hatred of her powerful brother and the love of two men.

Her savant abilities and penchant to speak truth forces her to walk a dangerous path in an age of change— a time of challenge to the goddess’ ancient ways, when cultures clash and the earth itself is unstable. When foreign raiders kidnap her, Na’amah’s journey to escape and return home becomes an attempt to save her people from the disaster only she knows is coming.


I absolutely loved this book!  I couldn’t put it down and read it in one day.

Na’amah is thought to be cursed because she seems different from everyone else in her village.  She wants to be a shepherd, which is a job for a child and not acceptable for grown women.  She has no interest in marrying.  She doesn’t think anyone would ever want to marry her.  One day she bonds with another outsider named Noah over a talking bird in the marketplace.  He buys it for her as a betrothal present.  Her father accepts and Na’amah thinks that having Noah’s protection will help her deal with her very hostile brother.

Their village is on the edge of a lake and there have been minor floods through the years.  They scared Na’amah so she asked that Noah, a boat builder, build them a house that will be able to float.  As they add people and animals to their family they add on to the house until their house becomes a bit of a tourist attraction.

The book has many strong female characters which are lacking in the Bible story.  If you are expecting a faithful retelling of the Genesis story you will be disappointed. The flood is based on historical evidence of upheaval around the Black Sea and not on the wrath of God.


Noah’s Wife Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 15
Review & Giveaway at Unshelfish
Review & Giveaway at Broken Teepee
Spotlight & Giveaway at Let Them Read Books

Tuesday, December 16
Review at Just One More Chapter
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews Plus More

Wednesday, December 17
Review at Svetlana’s Reads and Views
Review & Giveaway at Peeking Between the Pages

Thursday, December 18
Review at Forever Ashley
Interview at Passages to the Past

Friday, December 19
Review at Based on a True Story

To enter to win an Autographed copy of Noah’s Wife & magnetized bookmark, please complete the giveaway form below.

– Giveaway ends at 11:59pm on December 19th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
– Giveaway is open to residents of the US only.
– Only one entry per household.
– All giveaway entrants agree to be honest and not cheat the systems; any suspect of fraud is decided upon by blog/site owner and the sponsor, and entrants may be disqualified at our discretion
– Winner have 48 hours to claim prize or new winner is chosen.

Noah’s Wife


If Nuns Ruled the World Book Cover If Nuns Ruled the World

Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction
Open Road Media

Profiles ten nuns and the causes to which they've dedicated their lives. Meet, for instance, Sister Simone Campbell, who traversed the United States challenging a Republican budget that threatened to severely undermine the well-being of poor Americans; Sister Megan Rice, who's willing to spend the rest of her life in prison if it helps eliminate nuclear weapons; and the inimitable Sister Jeannine Gramick, who's fighting for acceptance of gays and lesbians in the Catholic Church.

If your mental picture of nuns is straight from The Sound of Music, you should read this book.  The ten women profiled are each showing how women can dedicate themselves to improving the lives of the people around them.

There are nuns profiled here who have been jailed for civil disobedience.  They have protected women at abortion clinics.  They have cared for children born in prisons and women rescued from sex trafficking.  They have fought the church to include gay and lesbian people and to increase the opportunities for women.  They have been tortured for working in Central America and now work with other victims of torture.

Each of these women will challenge you to change the world around you.



WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

That is an actual finished quilt. Try to contain your shock.

That is Orca Bay, the 2011 mystery quilt by Bonnie Hunter. Yep, 2011. I actually worked hard at it and pretty much kept up with the clues. I had it done on schedule. I even made the pieced borders and then decided I didn’t like them and left them off. I had it quilted. This was all done by early 2012.

And then it sat. It didn’t just sit actually. It moved houses with us and then it sat again. I finally decided that this was stupid and it needed to be finished. It took me two weeks of procrastinating and then about 2 hours to bind it. Done!

I don’t really know what to do with a quilt that I am planning on keeping. I guess we put it in the living room and stare at it and then the dog lays on it on the couch. I usually give all my quilts away.


For my next project I’m going to make a Christmas quilt. I’m not a big Christmas fan so I’ve never wanted a Christmas quilt but I found one for me. I’m going to make Hazel by Elizabeth Hartman.

Photo from the pattern page. Click here for the link.

I’m going to make 4 hedgehogs in Christmas colors for a Christmas wallhanging. Maybe it will be done for next Christmas?

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My morning

The husband is on his second day of sick leave.  He’s been watching a show about the Mongols.

Him:  You should watch this.

Me:  I don’t like violence.

Him:  There’s sex.

Me:  I don’t like that either.

Him:  There’s intrigue.

Me:  I like intrigue.  Can I get that without a side of sex and violence?

Him:  (cheerfully) Nope!

Just hanging out. #cat

A photo posted by @dvmheather on

Riley Cat is also squirmy today.  He started out being super cuddly.  That’s so sweet.  I think he does it to build up bonus points to use up being naughty.  Then he had to knock an ornament off the tree.  He didn’t want to play with it.  He just wanted to knock it down because he could.

Then he wanted to lay on my arm while I was typing.  We had a moment of mutually assured destruction when he was about the claw my arm and I was about to let him fall off the desk.  We stared into each others eyes and finally he blinked and let go.

The husband walked by and said, “I was reading in the Sears Roebuck catalog that next year they won’t be carrying buggy whips anymore because that Henry Ford came out with that Model T.”  I asked him if sometimes he just can’t stand not hearing his own voice so he says the most random thing ever.  He declared me to be the meanest mommy ever and ran away.

Riley decided to knock the garland off the railing.  Then he jumped on Powder and started chasing her.  The dog joined in.  The husband yelled, “It’s the Mongol Horde!”

I kicked Riley outside to run off some energy.

He just reappeared while I was typing this so the husband must have let him back in.

I’m going to go to work at a high volume, walk in veterinary clinic just to get some peace and quiet.


A Natural History of Dragons Book Cover A Natural History of Dragons


Follows the tale of a bookish young woman whose passion for learning leads to revolutionary new understandings about dragons and defies the stifling conventions of her world.

This book is a combination of Victorian manners and high fantasy.  This is the first memoir of Lady Trent who is acknowledged as the leading expert on dragons.

She first got interested in them as a child but it was not acceptable for ladies.  She married a man who wasn’t ashamed to have an intellectual wife but even he wasn’t sure when she wanted to have them join an expedition to study dragons.

When they reach the remote village to set up their research station, their host is missing and the local dragon population has turned unexpectedly aggressive.

What is wrong with the dragons?  Why are they attacking humans all of a sudden?

This is the beginning of a series.  It was a cute mash up of genres.  I’m looking forward to reading more.

I loved this quote from page 189. It sounds like something I would say.

“I have long been accused of having no motherly instinct.  As near as I can tell, this instinct consists of attempting to wrap anyone below the age of eighteen in swaddling bands, so that they never learn anything about the world and its dangers.  I fail to see the use of this, especially from the point of view of species survival; but I do confess that one this occasion I may have let my intellectual excitement distract me from the peril of allowing a ten-year-old boy to wave a loaded rifle about.”




Reviews Posted Last Week

Loot by Sharon Waxman – Who owns ancient artifacts?  Should they be returned to their country of origin?

The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore – Who knew that Wonder Woman was written by a psychologist who invented the lie detector and was designed to be a model feminist icon based on the work of Margaret Sanger?

Sewing Can Be Dangerous by S.R. Mallery – Short stories that all feature sewing in some way.


Listening to this week

It took me forever to find a new audiobook.  I couldn’t find any of the books on my TBR list on Audible.  I must have weird tastes in audiobooks.  This one is good so far.

Trip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America's LanguagesTrip of the Tongue: Cross-Country Travels in Search of America’s Languages by Elizabeth Little

“Though we’re known as a nation of English speakers, the linguistic map of the United States is hardly monochromatic. While much ado has been made about the role that Spanish may play in our national future, it would be a gross misrepresentation to label America a bilingual country. On the contrary, our languages are as varied as our origins. There is Basque in Nevada, Arabic in Detroit, Gullah in South Carolina. We speak European, Asian, and American Indian languages; we speak creoles, jargons, and pidgins. As a resident of Queens-among the most ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse places on the planet-Elizabeth Little first began to wonder how this host of tongues had shaped the American experience. It was only a matter of time before she decided to take her questions on the road.” from Goodreads


Reading this week

A Natural History of Dragons (Memoir by Lady Trent, #1)A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan

“All the world, from Scirland to the farthest reaches of Eriga, know Isabella, Lady Trent, to be the world’s preeminent dragon naturalist. She is the remarkable woman who brought the study of dragons out of the misty shadows of myth and misunderstanding into the clear light of modern science. But before she became the illustrious figure we know today, there was a bookish young woman whose passion for learning, natural history, and, yes, dragons defied the stifling conventions of her day.” from Goodreads


The Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese FoodThe Fortune Cookie Chronicles: Adventures in the World of Chinese Food by Jennifer 8. Lee

“If you think McDonald’s is the most ubiquitous restaurant experience in America, consider that there are more Chinese restaurants in America than McDonalds, Burger Kings, and Wendys combined. New York Times reporter and Chinese-American (or American-born Chinese). In her search, Jennifer 8 Lee traces the history of Chinese-American experience through the lens of the food.” from Goodreads

I’ve realized that I don’t write about my personal life as much as I used to.  In part that’s because I’m relatively stable (read boring) right now.  But here’s a rundown of what has happened recently:

1.  I judged a trail ride in Florida last week.  I’ve judged that this location in the past and it is hard.  I judge on changes in the horses’ condition.  This ride is flat and slow and cool.  The horses are literally out there strolling through the park.  It is really hard to judge this ride.

Last weekend though, it was different.  The temperature went to 75 and the horses all had heavy winter coats.  When it was all over 1/4 of the ride had to drop out for reasons ranging from being out of shape to not being fully recovered from previous illness to sore backs to sore feet to rider injury to family emergencies.  The riders are really good at stopping the horses at the first sign of trouble.  At one checkpoint I had three riders decide to have their horses trailered out. All the horses were fine with a break and a good meal in their stalls. I don’t have any pictures because every time I got the camera out I had to go check on someone.

On Sunday, we lost half of the experienced rider division in the first half mile.  They went on the wrong trail.  Then the park service decided that conditions were lovely for an impromptu burn of the forest that the riders were in.  When we got the call that the trail was on fire, I burst out laughing.  It was just that sort of weekend.  Of course the trail was on fire.

They were seen starting the fire so they were able to put it out quickly when told that there was a competition going on in the area they were planning to burn.  I believe an email was going to be sent requesting that they check what scheduled events are going on before they go randomly setting things on fire.

2.  I got a new computer.  My Mac Mini was 9 years old and tired.  Now I have a brand new one but it required three trips to a store to get the right cable to connect it to ancient monitor.  Why can nothing ever work the first time?  The scroll button on the mouse works in the opposite direction when connected to this computer.  That is confusing.

3.  We have Z this weekend and she is sick.  Now the husband is sick.  I am not a doctor of humans.  They forget this and think I am being unreasonable when I don’t magically fix them.  Last night had Z had an earache.  She communicated this by standing and screaming for hours.  Lest anyone forget – this is not a toddler.  This is an 11 year old.  Her screaming would have been appropriate if a bear had chewed off her leg and then beat her over the head with it.  It was unnecessary for an earache.  I was the bad guy because I wouldn’t fix it.  I considered offering her some of Freckles’ ear meds.  Hatred of screaming children is one of the reasons I chose not to breed.  Why did I end up with it anyway?

The husband was angry that his ex was sending a sick kid to him instead of keeping her home to rest.  I swear his sickness is most likely psychosomatic but I’m smart enough not to say that.  I’m missing my family Christmas party because I have to take the kid back to her parent now.

Z vomited today and wanted me to examine it in the toilet.  I don’t do vomit.  I’m a gagger.  I refused to look at her vomit.  Guess who is a bad person again?  You can’t learn anything I didn’t already know from vomit.  For the record, I take this stance with most people who want me to look at pictures of their dog’s vomit too.

4.  I slept in the living room last night to avoid germs.  I got up in the middle of the night and panicked my poor bird.  I had to talk her down to get her to realize it was me and not a predator before I could move again and turn on the light.  She was annoyed with me too.

5.  I think I’m cool with the dog and the cats but you never know about these things.



Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Book Cover Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads

The eleven long short stories in “Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads combine history, mystery, action and/or romance, and range from drug trafficking using Guatemalan hand-woven wallets, to an Antebellum U.S. slave using codes in her quilts as a message system to freedom; from an ex-journalist and her Hopi Indian maid solving a cold case together involving Katchina spirits, to a couple hiding Christian passports in a comforter in Nazi Germany; from a wedding quilt curse dating back to the Salem Witchcraft Trials, to a mystery involving a young seamstress in the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire; from a 1980’s Romeo and Juliet romance between a rising Wall Street financial ‘star’ and an eclectic fiber artist, to a Haight-Asbury love affair between a professor and a beautiful macramé artist gone horribly askew, just to name a few.

As soon as I saw the title Sewing Can Be Dangerous I knew I needed to read this book.

Each story in this collection features sewing in some way.  I was impressed by the breadth of subjects and locations for the stories.  None of them overlapped subject matter at all.  The sewing was depicted in many creative ways.

I wasn’t a big fan of the writing.  It didn’t pull me into the stories.  I kept reading because I was interested in the plot instead of being swept away by the emotion of the story.


Sewing Can Be Dangerous and Other Small Threads Blog Tour Schedule

Monday, December 1
Review at Unshelfish
Tuesday, December 2

Review at Bibliotica
Wednesday, December 3
Review at History From a Woman’s Perspective
Thursday, December 4
Spotlight & Giveaway at Teddy Rose Book Reviews and More
Friday, December 5
Guest Post at What Is That Book About
Interview at Dianne Ascroft Blog
Monday, December 8
Review at WV Stitcher
Tuesday, December 9
Review at 100 Pages a Day – Stephanie’s Book Reviews
Guest Post & Giveaway at Historical Fiction Connection
Wednesday, December 10
Review at A Book Geek
Thursday, December 11
Review at Book Nerd
Friday, December 12
Review at Based on a TrueStory
Monday, December 15
Review at CelticLady’s Reviews
Tuesday, December 16
Review at BookBabe
Wednesday, December 17
Review at Just One More Chapter
Friday, December 19
Review at Book Drunkard

The Secret History of Wonder Woman Book Cover The Secret History of Wonder Woman

Biography & Autobiography, Nonfiction
Alfred a Knopf Incorporated

A cultural history of Wonder Woman traces the character's creation and enduring popularity, drawing on interviews and archival research to reveal the pivotal role of feminism in shaping her seven-decade story.

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 and was the brainchild of William Moulton Marston. Marston was a brilliant but arrogant man. He worked his way through Harvard in the early 1910s by writing screenplays for the fledgling movie industry. During his junior year in the psychology department he invented the first lie-detector test. He was a supporter of the suffragette movement that was electrifying Harvard. During his freshman year, leading British suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst was banned from speaking on campus. Harvard didn’t let women speak in their lecture halls.

He married his childhood sweetheart, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, after graduation. She was a graduate of Mount Holyoke College and an ardent feminist. She even had the bobbed hair to prove it! Because Marston was going to Harvard Law, she decided to go too. She wasn’t admitted because she was a woman so she went to Boston College Law, where she excelled.

Olive Byrne was the niece of Margaret Sanger and the daughter of Ethel Byrne, the founders of the first birth control clinic in the United States.  She met Marston when she was student in one of his classes.  He brought her home to live with him and his wife.  Sadie Holloway worked to support the family because Marston couldn’t hold a steady job.  Olive Byrne raised the children.  Each woman had two children with Marston.  There was also another woman who came and went often through the years.

I don’t like polygamist stories because there is such an awkward power dynamic.  I felt like Holloway was forced into this arrangement.  But then after Marston died the women stayed together for another 45 years.

Wonder Woman was designed to be a feminist story.  It was based on a book called  Woman and the New Race by Margaret Sanger and Marston’s theory that women should control the world through loving submission.  In Marston’s Wonder Woman stories bondage is a constant theme and started to cause trouble with critics.  When other writers worked on Wonder Woman they relegated her to more traditional female duties like being the secretary of the Justice League.  After Marston’s death Holloway asked to take over the writing to keep her steeped in feminist principles but control of the comic was given to male writers who didn’t agree with women’s independence.

I didn’t know anything about the 1940s comic version of Wonder Woman.  I was a big fan of the 1970s TV show though.

This book is much more about the history of the family than the history of Wonder Woman. Olive Byrne was adamant that no one ever know the truth about their family arrangements. She never even admitted to her children that Marston was their father. Likewise no one involved ever discussed the link between Margaret Sanger and the feminist movement and Wonder Woman. Olive Byrne was interviewed extensively about her mother and aunt after their deaths but no interviewer ever caught on to the fact that she had a pretty amazing story too.

Listening to this book made me want to read more about the feminist movement in the early 20th century. The author read the book and that distracted a bit. She wasn’t great at doing voices. It would have been better to read it without them.

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Loot by Sharon Waxman

Loot Book Cover Loot


Evaluates the debate over the ownership of great works of ancient art, documenting how countries where ancient civilizations originated are taking western museums to court to force the return of priceless objects.

I learned about this book from the endnotes in The Lost Sisterhood. Who should own art?  Is it the cultural patrimony of the country where it was made?  Does it belong to the highest bidder?  Does it belong to whoever is strong enough to take it?

It is a very complicated question with no good answers.

Grave robbing has happened forever.  Should museums today return objects stolen from Egyptian tombs in the 1900s?  What about objects stolen earlier?

There are art pieces that have been stolen repeatedly.

“Should the four bronze horses on the roof of the church of San Marco in Venice be returned to Constantinople, whence they were taken in 1204 during the Fourth Crusade?  Or should they be returned to Rome, since they supposedly adorned the Arch of Trajan before they were carted off to Contantinople?  Or should they go back to the Greeks, who are believed to have originally made them in the fourth century BC?  Those who would unravel the tangled skein of history will quickly confront such riddles.  As the restitution debate evolves, new brain twisters emerge.  Like this one:  in 2007 American deep-sea explorers in international waters off the coast of Spain found a Spanish galleon that had been sunk by a British warship in 1804.  On the ship, the explorers found gold and other treasures worth $500 million.  Claiming that this was its “cultural heritage,” Spain immediately asserted ownership of the shipwreck and filed a federal lawsuit in Tampa, Florida, to press its claim.  But Peru then intervened to ask what seemed to be a relevant question:  wasn’t this gold stolen from the Peruvians’ Incan forebears?  And if so, shouldn’t they be the ones to whom restitution is made?”  from pages 7-8.

The author focuses her story on art from the ancient Mediterranean countries.  She interviews archeologists in these countries, smugglers, dealers, and museum directors.  The story gets more and more tangled.  For example:

  • France considers any item in the Louvre to be French by definition no matter where it was originally made.
  • A museum in Turkey won the return of a group of artifacts from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art in one of the first high profile restitution cases.  The centerpiece of that collection has since been stolen.
  • In some of the small museums that have had items returned from large western museums the number of people who saw the items in the first 5 years after restitution was less than the number of people who saw them each hour in the previous museum.
  • If a collector buys a piece in good faith and it turns out to have been looted, do they get their money back and from whom?

After reading this book I don’t have a clear idea of what the right thing to do is in many of these situations.  I will think more about how the items got to museums and notice if the museums list anything about their history other than “Swiss collector.”



Fitness Tuesday



I wasn’t feeling the best this day so I did my 30 squats for the Spartan Challenge only.  I did 30 slow bodyweight squats.


30 thrusters – Holding the weight under your chin squat then stand up and press the weight overhead.  I did 45 lbs.


Body weight squats

And then the weekend happened….

I was judging a trail ride in Florida and I remembered to do my squats on Friday night.  This is a ride that is typically pretty boring.  The terrain is flat so the horses aren’t stressed at all.  I have a hard time finding anything to take points off the horses for.  This year, wow.  Saturday was unseasonably hot and humid.  The horses all had winter hair.  I’ve never had so many not finish a ride.  There was other drama over the weekend too which is all my excuse for hitting my bed each night and falling into a coma for a few hours before getting up at 5 AM to start all over and forgetting my squats.  I even forgot that I was forgetting my squats.  So, bad on track from today.




Chamber of Secrets is my least favorite book of all the Harry Potter books.  Now I can see the importance of the book in the overall story but at the time I read it it seemed to me to be a typical second book of a series.  The heroes go and fight the same villain that they fought in the first book and beat him again but in a slightly different way.

Also, who tries to get rid of a book by flushing it down the toilet?  Even Muggles know better than that!  Of course, you can flush yourself down the toilet to get to the Ministry of Magic so maybe that isn’t such a crazy thing in the wizarding world.

And, they need a better janitor at Hogwarts.  How long has that toilet been overflowing without being fixed?  That’s just wasting water.  (I wrote a line about the water bill being horrendous and then had a whole mental discussion with myself about Hogwarts probably having wells or drawing water from the lake.  What does it say about me if I am mentally diagramming the plumbing system of a fictional world.)

This is one of the few instances where I liked the movie better than the book.  Seeing it on screen made me appreciate the book more than I had before.  I was surprised by that.

Fitness Tuesday



20 modified bear complexes with a 45 lb bar – Bar at thighs, lift to under chin, squat, stand up and press bar overhead, lower bar behind head to shoulders, squat, stand up and press bar overhead, return to starting position


1.5 mile walk with Freckles


1.5 mile walk without Freckles (Don’t tell)

I’m starting 2 December fitness challenges.

I’m doing the Spartan Race’s 30 Days of Squats. You are supposed to sign up and they give you a squat routine to do each day. I’ve tried to sign up for their stuff before and somehow never manage to get the information they promise. I’m just going to do my own squat routines. Today I did 30 full range of motion bodyweight squats to work on mobility. I slowly squatted down until my butt was lower than my knees. I have very tight hamstrings so this is hard for me so I held on to a counter so I could do it without falling backwards. That way I could get the full range of motion. I held at the bottom for a few seconds each time and occasionally held up to 10 seconds.

The second challenge is Brooke: Not On A Diet’s Skinny Snowman. You earn points each week.

  • Lose or maintain weight each week – 15 pts.
  • Veggie serving with every meal – 5 pts per meal
  • 3 fruit servings – 10 points per day
  • 64 oz of water – 5 pts/day or over 64 oz of water 10 pts/day
  • Meatless Monday – 10 pts (I win!)
  • Complete weekly mini challenge – 25 pts
  • Log food – 10 pts/day
  • 5 daily positives – 5 pts/day
  • Activity 5 pts/30 minutes max 50pts/week

This week’s mini challenge is to write out 3 goals.

  1.  I want to lose 5 lbs minimum.
  2.  I want no fast food breakfasts because I’m too lazy to make breakfast at home.
  3.  I want to make sure I have some sort of workout every day.

I’m already behind because I thought it started in 12/1 and it was really on 11/30.


Reviews Posted This Week

Dick Francis’ Damage by Felix Francis
Undercover investigator Jeff Hinkley is assigned by the British Horseracing Authority to look into the activities of a suspicious racehorse trainer, but as he’s tailing his quarry through the Cheltenham Racing Festival, the last thing he expects to witness is a gruesome murder. Could it have something to do with the reason the trainer was banned in the first place—the administration of illegal drugs to his horses?

Everyday Sexism by Laura BatesAfter experiencing a series of escalating sexist incidents, Laura Bates, a young journalist, started a project called ‘everyday sexism’ to raise the profile of these previously untold stories. Astounded by the response she received and the wide range of stories that came pouring in from all over the world, she quickly realised that the situation was far worse than she’d initially thought. Enough was enough. From being harassed and wolf-whistled at on the street, to discrimination in the workplace and serious sexual assault, it was clear that sexism had become normalised.

The Ghost Map by Steven JohnsonA historical chronicle of Victorian London’s worst cholera outbreak traces the day-by-day efforts of Dr. John Snow, who put his own life on the line in his efforts to prove his previously dismissed contagion theory about how the epidemic was spreading.


Listening to Now

The Secret History of Wonder WomanThe Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore

“A riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.

Harvard historian and New Yorker staff writer Jill Lepore has uncovered an astonishing trove of documents, including the never-before-seen private papers of William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Beginning in his undergraduate years at Harvard, Marston was influenced by early suffragists and feminists, starting with Emmeline Pankhurst, who was banned from speaking on campus in 1911, when Marston was a freshman. In the 1920s, Marston and his wife, Sadie Elizabeth Holloway, brought into their home Olive Byrne, the niece of Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century. The Marston family story is a tale of drama, intrigue, and irony. In the 1930s, Marston and Byrne wrote a regular column for Family Circle celebrating conventional family life, even as they themselves pursued lives of extraordinary nonconformity. Marston, internationally known as an expert on truth—he invented the lie detector test—lived a life of secrets, only to spill them on the pages of Wonder Woman.” from Goodreads

Reading Now

Loot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient WorldLoot: The Battle over the Stolen Treasures of the Ancient World by Sharon Waxman


“Why are the Elgin Marbles in London and not on the Acropolis? Why do there seem to be as many mummies in France as there are in Egypt? Why are so many Etruscan masterworks in America? For the past two centuries, the West has been plundering the treasures of the ancient world to fill its great museums, but in recent years, the countries where ancient civilizations originated have begun to push back, taking museums to court, prosecuting curators, and threatening to force the return of these priceless objects.” from Goodreads

Kushiel's Dart (Phèdre's Trilogy, #1)Kushiel’s Dart by Jacqueline Carey

“The land of Terre d’Ange is a place of unsurpassing beauty and grace. It is said that angels found the land and saw it was good…and the ensuing race that rose from the seed of angels and men live by one simple rule: Love as thou wilt.

Phèdre nó Delaunay is a young woman who was born with a scarlet mote in her left eye. Sold into indentured servitude as a child, her bond is purchased by Anafiel Delaunay, a nobleman with very a special mission…and the first one to recognize who and what she is: one pricked by Kushiel’s Dart, chosen to forever experience pain and pleasure as one.

Phèdre is trained equally in the courtly arts and the talents of the bedchamber, but, above all, the ability to observe, remember, and analyze. Almost as talented a spy as she is courtesan, Phèdre stumbles upon a plot that threatens the very foundations of her homeland.” from Goodreads

ABCs of Travel

Inspired by Amy

A) Age you went on your first international trip:

17.  I went with a group of language students from my mother’s school on a trip through Germany, Switzerland, and Austria.  It was a few months after the Berlin Wall fell and the big debate in Germany was about reunification.

B) Best foreign beer you’ve had and where:

I don’t like beer no matter where I’ve tried it.

C) Cuisine (favorite):

South American.  I learned to LOVE beans and rice and fresh mangoes and fried plantains.

D) Destinations–favorite, least favorite, and why?:

I really loved Portugal.  It was beautiful all the way down to the street mosaics.

I didn’t like Jamaica at all.  I can’t quite put my finger on why but I always felt very claustrophobic there.

E) Event you’ve experienced abroad that made you say “wow”:

The night we arrived in Costa Rica we were exhausted because it had been a long day.  It was dark by the time we got to the farm where we were staying for a few days.  We just collapsed into bed.  The next morning we got up and looked outside.  We were in the mountains and it was breathtakingly beautiful.  I remember each person coming outside and being struck speechless.  We all just stood there and watched a rain storm slowly come in over the mountains.

F) Favorite mode of transportation:

European trains, not in any way to be confused with South American trains where you take your life in your hands in the melee to get on.

G) Greatest feeling while traveling:

Getting there after a long trip and dropping your suitcase and collapsing on the bed after hours or days of travel.

H) Hottest places you’ve traveled:

Bolivia in September. I was so glad whenever it rained.

I) Incredible service you’ve experienced and where?:

I don’t know about this one. There isn’t anything that stands out as spectacular but I’m not a very needy traveler so I don’t usually ask for help. I know the worse service ever was at a resort in Florida that kept us locked out of our room for hours.

J) Journey that took the longest:

Probably my first trip to Europe.  We went by bus from western PA to JFK, then flew to Iceland and then to Luxembourg.

K) Keepsake from your travels:

I don’t buy any keepsakes anymore.  I just have pictures.  I do have a quilt that I made from t-shirts I bought in Costa Rica and Bolivia.


L) Let-down sight, where and why?:
Mount Rushmore.  We saw Crazy Horse the day before and it made Mount Rushmore look so puny.

M) Moment where you fell in love with traveling:

I’ve always loved it.

N) Nicest hotel you’ve stayed in:

My parents have a time share membership to some amazing hotels all around the States.  I would never pay for them but since I get to use them for free, I indulge.  Left to my own devices, I’d stay in cheap places.


This is the living area of a three bedroom, three bath suite in Florida at one of my parents’ timeshares.

O) Obsession–what are you obsessed with taking pictures of while traveling?:

Old buildings and landscapes and seascapes.

Zion National Park February 2014

Villefrance-sur-Mer, France October 2014


P) Passport stamps-how many and from where?:

Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Lichenstein (I had to pay for that one!), Costa Rica, Bolivia, Peru, Spain, France, Jamaica, Virgin Islands – but not all in the same passport.  I don’t like the fact that you don’t get stamps for all the countries in Europe you go to anymore and I never get anything from Canada.

Q) Quirkiest attraction you’ve visited and where?:

Maybe the salt mines in Germany where you get to ride a little train and then use slides to go down levels in the mine.

R) Really Frightening: where’s one place you’ve visited where you felt unsafe or uneasy?

The bus ride from San Jose, Costa Rica to Orotina, Costa Rica.  You start in the mountains and go hurtling down the mountains to the coast.  There are huge drops off the sides of the roads and no guard rails.  Everytime I’d convince myself that we weren’t going to die because the buses do this every day, there’d be another cross to mark the site of an accident.

S) Splurge-something you have no problem spending money on while traveling:


T) Touristy thing you’ve done:

All of it.  I have no shame.

U) Unforgettable travel memory:

Can’t pick just one.

V) Visas-how many and for where?:

I haven’t ever needed one.

W) Wine–best glass while traveling:

Good wine is wasted on me

X) eXcellent view and from where?:

Peering over the edge of Pike’s Peak during a thunderstorm was impressive.

Y) Years spent traveling:

Internationally, off and on for 25 years.  In the U.S. forever.

Z) Zealous sports fans and where?:

Nothing beats being a college student at an SEC school when you have a top 5 football team.

Linking to:
Sunday Traveler


The Ghost Map Book Cover The Ghost Map

History, Nonfiction

A historical chronicle of Victorian London's worst cholera outbreak traces the day-by-day efforts of Dr. John Snow, who put his own life on the line in his efforts to prove his previously dismissed contagion theory about how the epidemic was spreading.

“..epidemics create a kind of history from below:  they can be world-changing, but the participants are almost inevitably ordinary folk, following their established routines, not thinking for a second about how their actions will be recorded for posterity.  And of course, if they do recognize that they are living through a historical crisis, it’s often too late – because, like it or not, the primary way that ordinary people create this distinct genre of history is by dying.”  page 32

The Ghost Map is the story of the Broad Street cholera epidemic in 1854.  I knew the basic story.  There is an outbreak of cholera in London.  They trace the source to a well.  They removed the handle from the pump of the well and the outbreak stops.  It is one of the first epidemiological studies done.

I didn’t know the deeper story.  John Snow was a scientist who had been working on proving that cholera was waterborne and not a result of foul air for years and was just waiting for the perfect outbreak to prove his point.  Henry Whitehead was a local pastor who initially didn’t believe the water theory and opposed the removal of the handle from the well known to be the cleanest in the area.  In the aftermath of the epidemic they were on the same committee charged with compiling the data.  Whitehead knew everyone around and was able to hunt down people who had fled the area to see why they had survived.

The book highlights the challenges of epidemiological studies.  People have to remember what common things they did in the last normal days before a disaster.  They found the key was asking the children.  That made me laugh because that is still true.  A lot of times I’ll be asking questions about a sick pet and will ask if he got into anything recently and the adults will say no and the kids will say, “He ate a pack of crayons and the leg off my Barbie.”  Or they know that the cats have been fighting.  They know all the dirt on everyone.

The book also looks at the history of cities as breeding ground for epidemics.  At the time of this cholera outbreak, London was the largest city and experts thought it couldn’t get any bigger without systemic collapse.  Epidemics and city growth were linked.

“The dramatic increase of people available to populate the new urban spaces of the Industrial Age may have had one other cause:  tea. …

… Brewed tea possesses several crucial antibacterial properties that help ward off waterborne diseases:  tannic acid released in the steeping process kills off those bacteria that haven’t already perished during the boiling of the water.  The explosion of tea drinking in the later 1700s was, from the bacteria’s point of view, a microbial holocaust.  Physicians observed a dramatic drop in dysentery and child mortality during the period.  (The antiseptic agents in tea could be passed on to infants through breast milk.) Largely freed from waterborne disease agents, the tea-drinking population began to swell in number, ultimately supplying a larger labor pool to the emerging factory towns, and to the great sprawling monster of London itself.”  pages 94-95

The last part of the book looks at the development of sewer systems that happened afterwards and how that saved London from other outbreaks.  It also looks at modern mapping and how it benefits cities.  The most interesting example was New York City’s 311 system that is designed to give people a place to talk to authorities about non-emergency matters but is also designed to track calls to let officials find out about local concerns.  After a major power outage they got a lot of calls about insulin not being kept cold so information about shelf life of insulin is now part of their emergency briefings.


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On Thanksgiving my mother showed me two albums of postcards that belonged to her grandmother. I knew this great-grandmother as a 90+ year old woman in a wheelchair when I was a little kid. These are the postcards of a brazen hussy.

Some of them are from relatives and some are souvenirs that she bought on trips but the ones I took pictures of were ones she sent to her intended in 1907.


Most of them don’t say anything on the back. She lets the pictures speak for themselves.


This one has the notation on the front, “Zella and I, Bye and Bye.” Zella was her name so her beau must have written it after he got it.

Sometimes there are brief notes.

“Hel-lo Mr Herron” I can’t read that in anything other than a sassy tone.

The back of this one said that that would be them in 5 years’ time.

This picture is labelled with their names and then the back says:

“This beats the wheat shack all to smash” What, exactly, were you getting up to in the wheat shack, young lady?

I was hesitant to look but there was no message on this one. Guess there didn’t need to be.

My mom said there was one that gave a time when her parents were going to be gone and a suggestion that they meet up in the orchard. Kids these days!

Linking up with West Metro Mommy Reads.

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