633 Books and a Healthy Outlook

Wild

I obviously didn’t sleep as much as I should have this year and had very little of what most would call ‘a life’. There are a couple of days left, but let’s call it like a rained out baseball game- 633 books, at least 184,651 pages (some audiobooks don’t have a print version) and a healthier Gwen.

What turned the corner for my attitude this year was a series of subtle changes and finally, grabbing the Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle in September.  I’ve had issues for years, but they were messy issues that were hard to put into words and get across to the people that might have been able to help. After decades of trying and failing, I found someone that was able to put a label on those issues and even better, ready to teach me the tools to conquer them.

One of the things that I was inspired to do was to really take a more proactive approach to my physical health. Like take an honest account of how much physical activity I actually did, stop blaming genes for why I was skeletal and explore ways to make me more comfortable with what I put in and on my body. It was a sort of re-making of Gwen and it was damn time.

So while I read and listened to books trying to keep the demons at bay, I also grabbed a fitness tracker, made changes to my diet, explored (okay, researched to death) the sustainability and eco-friendliness of the products I use, and more. Coffee and Diet Coke no longer have me in their grips and Soap Nuts replaced regular detergent, for example.

The last thing that I really wanted to learn was about essential oils. Yes, they are all the rage right now, I know, but they had been on my radar for years thanks to being an armchair herbalist for over a decade now. The Healthy Living Bundle was a boon for that for a bunch of reasons and the biggest one was the Essential Oils & Natural Health course from Vintage Remedies. This class alone was $95 and the whole bundle was just $30.  This isn’t one of those simple ecourses where you get an email everyday and a nice print out. Vintage Remedies has a whole online system with private audio, video, tests and the whole nine yards that you can take at your own pace.  It was as well thought out, even better really, than the online classes I have taken from the local colleges. It gave me so much confidence that I took what I learned and made all of my Christmas gifts and tailored them to each persons individual needs.

I obviously could go on for years, but wanted to shout from the rooftops what a great resource this whole bundle was. You might be the type that is making health-related  resolutions this week and this would be one way to take that on as well. There is so much included that I haven’t even gotten through all of the books yet!

So, the bundle is being offered again for just today and tomorrow and yes, I am now an affiliate so I am going to give you that link. There are things that blogger link to to make money and this one has been different for me personally. It isn’t just a book that I liked or a product that I believe in, it is something that actually was a big part of the smile on my face these days, changed my whole outlook and is a great value no matter what aspect of healthy living you subscribe to.

Here goes,

There are more details via the link, but as with everything …if I try to describe it, we would be here all flipping day:)

(I will just have to go on about the year in books later)

Sort of Like Gwen's Signature


The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era by Michael A. Ross

New Orleans

In 1870, New Orleans and Reconstruction had it so right and the best example of this I have ever come across is this case and this book. I wanted to cry; not because there was a kidnapping, but because for a few shining moments, our country was trying so hard to live the ideal of freedom and justice for all.

Two African American women kidnapped wee Mollie Digby from her front yard in June of 1870. I say African American, however at the time they were called many things, some nice and some that are derogative now. It may seem strange to us now, the “N” word was seldom one of them. We tend to look at the American South as rabid racists in the late 1800’s. New Orleans was different though. It was special and in many ways a utopian sort of place where people of different races and nationalities lived side by side and often mixed and mingled. There were slaves pre-war, so it wasn’t perfect.

New Orleans had a long history as a French Colony before the US made their little ‘ole Louisiana Purchase and the French had always had a better attitude about race than most countries, way ahead of their time. There was this idea of Creoles; French Creoles, Afro-Creole, Louisiana Creole, etc.  The precious gift of New Orleanians was that they were all Creoles. They all got along and for the most part, it looks like it was copasetic until the war or really after the war…or really until people that didn’t understand the concept of Creole moved on in after the war and tried to shape New Orleans based on their old fears and belief systems. If what I am trying to say is coming out like a hot mess, it’s because my thoughts get all muddled and well, it was a hot mess at the time.

Half of the population of New Orleans jumped on this kidnapping because it was two African Americans and the other half were busy trying to use it to show that Reconstruction was working. The problem is that it was the media that was doing the hating and people pay attention when the news shoves crazy stories in their faces all day-all the time. (much like now) The Republicans that really believed in Reconstruction and supported equality got it a bit muddled as well. Instead of finding dear Mollie Digby, they were busy attempting to prove a point and that never works well.

What matters is that for one brief shining moment Justice was truly blind and fair. It was hard won, never assured, and probably the last time that African Americans got a fair shake in a courtroom for decades, but it happened. The story of it is glorious and heart breaking and will make you mad and will make you look back at the political parties and what they stood for and a million other things.

And then, that other political party got busy, there were black codes and Jim Crow then the KKK drew members like a dead skunk in the road draws maggots and it all went to hell for way too long.

An amazing book about a not so amazing crime that highlights not only the great New Orleans culture, but a time when everything and anything was possible.

{Insert apology here because I get really worked up whenever one of the two R’s comes up, Racism & Rape. Those are things that shouldn’t be happening and there is no valid excuse or for them other than ignorance and hate. Not acceptable.}

Much Like Gwen's Signature


Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood by William J. Mann

Tinseltown

There are many keywords that will lead any reader to pick up a book. For me, the list seems a bit endless with history, murder, and classic or silent Hollywood somewhere near the top and that is why when I saw Tinseltown on the Harper’s upcoming books I did a wee bit of a jig.   Being a reformed classic movie junkie and having a festering obsession with John Barrymore (really, I have photos and trading cards of him on my walls) this was a great fit with the other books on my shelf covering this very same subject- the murder of William Desmond Taylor. {insert ominous da, da, da, dum}

Taylor and Jack the Ripper have quite a bit in common; both unsolved, everyone has a theory, pre-modern forensic science, evidence gone missing, and even their own exhaustive websites with information and groupies. Taylor’s murder has something that I don’t see the Ripper as having, it happened at the same time as the birth of Hollywood, which was arguably the the major cultural and entertainment powerhouse of the 20th century.

What is slightly different in Mann’s take on the case is that he comes to the conclusion that the culprit was someone that, while a suspect in most treatments, has not been confidently fingered before, there is a lot more talk of drug use, it’s the most complete picture of Paramount mogul Adolph Zuckor that I have ever read, and he makes many interesting word choices throughout.

A friend reminded me the other day that if there is no controversy of some sort or one can’t be created, the media will not cover it and that really applies to Tinseltown. Mann give the impression that every single person tangentially related to Hollywood had major skeletons in their closets and 99% of them had to do with drugs. Now, I wasn’t there and it was the wild 20’s and yet, I am not a fan of painting an entire industry or time period as drug and sex-crazed.  You might be tempted to throw the 60’s at me after reading that, but do you really think that everyone…your parents or grandparents, if you are younger, were out “turning on, tuning in, or dropping out”? I didn’t think so.

Zuckor? That was probably the most well done part of the book. It will leave feeling grateful for never having worked for the man and perhaps, insight into characteristics were almost vital to have in order to become the leader in many business at the time. His life is the embodiment of immigrant success that makes America great and also proves, yet again, that one doesn’t necessarily have to be likable to succeed.

Word choices? This was interesting and while I need to make note of it, I also need to mention that I have lately been on a lot of rants about this from authors and copywriters in general.  His use of words like clew and athwart might not sound to you like the nails on a chalkboard that they were for me. Think of this as a big case of it’s not Mann, it’s me.

His fingering a culprit? Like the Ripper, there have been so many theories that it is really hard to separate the wheat from the chafe. It’s completely possible and still unable to move beyond reasonable doubt for me based on the few facts that are left.

Tinseltown is like the 1920’s and Hollywood was, one heck of a ride. So much has been written about the murder that I really don’t have a favorite book in the race. If the case is new to you and you don’t have any pre-conceived notions, this wouldn’t be a bad choice and would treat you to a fair amount of somewhat unrelated Hollywood history, which is nice. Like the Ripper, the chance of fingering the dastardly murderer and pleasing everyone at this point are akin to finding a victim’s bloody sweater with DNA on it over a hundred years later. Oh…wait…that’s been done…and debunked. (My family has passed down many things, nothing as strange as a bloody sweater though. Seriously, not one generation thought it weird?)

Tinseltown: Murder, Morphine, and Madness at the Dawn of Hollywood

by William J. Mann

  • Print Length: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper (October 14, 2014)
  • Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

Much Like Gwen's Signature

Tinseltown fell into my hands like manna from heaven from HarperCollins. As always, the gift has no effect on my personal thoughts regarding the book. 


Modern Pioneering by Georgia Pellegrini

Modern

Book space is a major issue in my house and to live without towers of them around me I have to be really brutal about what stays, gets donated, or as part of a specific collection, gets shoved in boxes under my bed. Say hello to the not-so-mini-library of books on Frank Lloyd Wright and the Arts & Crafts movement that, most likely, are holding up my bed right at this very moment.

Anywho, there are three shelves of visible books and a good portion of those are to-be-read with the remaining space for favorites and reference.  It isn’t often that a book falls into that last category because competition is T-O-U-G-H, tough. Modern Pioneering has made the cut.

Growing up in the city with parents that worked their rear ends off had it’s trade-offs and one of those was a lot of my food came out of a box from the freezer, was nuked in the microwave, and slithered onto my plate. Not only that, but we had a gardener, a pool guy, a dry cleaners that delivered, etc. Are you picking up what I am throwing down? There was zero home ec going on in my house. It was so bad that my first laundry load in college all came out blue due to not knowing to separate colors and especially new colors.

As the years have flown by I have learned so much and would have killed for the plethora of books that are out there now like Modern Pioneering. The whole make from scratch and consciousness about where food comes from is something that we lost for a few decades and color me thrilled. This one is a keeper for a few reasons.

There are things in Modern Pioneering that can attract all pioneering skill sets. It’s great for a beginner and the pro will find some new-to-them skills as well.  Kefir, is finally explained in words that don’t sound like something only a crazy health nut would use, priceless. From more space efficient gardening to (gosh I cringe at this word) foraging, then making a birdhouse out of a gourd to how to season a cast iron pan-there is so much packed into 293 actually readable pages.

Foraging to this city girl brings up negative pictures of dumpster diving and those um, freaky people that do it for fun. I might use wildcrafting or creativity in it’s place. It isn’t the wrong word, just has negative connotations for me personally.

Oh, and the photos? Fuhgetaboutit, you’re covered though you might want to bring something to wipe the drool. There are step-by-step directions and tutorials that will make you a pro in no time.

In general, it is a such a great book to grab at first blush that it earned one of the coveted slots on the shelf, even with the use of the word forage.  It fits right in between the 52 Weeks cookbook and The Healing Remedies Sourcebook, which are my go-to books for other similar but not the same reference titles.  Stop judging me for also saving The Resurectionist by Hudspeth, it’s all a part of my evil plan. It will happen with Kefir and cool illustrations of animals that don’t exist. 

 

Much Like Gwen's Signature

I think this one was from the publisher, it seems to have moved in and made a home for itself and that is a good sign. Not all books get along with each other. 

 


Things that I Need Explained to Me.

TV Shows We Used To Watch - BBC British TV 1959-80  - Harry Worth from Flickr via Wylio© 2010 Paul Townsend, Flickr | CC-BY-SA | via Wylio

I think that most readers, especially non-fiction readers, have an incredibly curious mind and I am no different. There are times that I am still too linear to get it, no matter how long I research something and need a hand. Who better to ask for assistance? No, not Facebook friends, fellow readers. So here is what is bugging me this very moment.

 

 

Why is is that sometimes, you don’t have to understand the B plot to like a book? Broken

 

 

Really?Yes, this was one of the most horrific nightmare causing books that I have ever read, but there was an entire storyline that made not a lick of sense to me. I just kept reading, hoping that a light would come on….nope, I could have excised those pages and still been freaked out. I don’t want to get more detailed because it may be considered a spoiler. On the other hand, how would I know?

 

 

 

 

Why didArchduke people hate Archduke Franz Ferdinand and his wife? Greg King and Sue Woolmans portrayed them both as peaceful and forward thinking in The Assassination of the Archduke.

Why did my mom call him Dude, when we were talking about the book?

Why is it that when leaders are killed “before their time” they are 99% of time referred to as good. Is there only one bad guy in history that took a bullet, or cyanide pill, in his young prime?

Explain to me why, a non-fiction book has the ability to send me down Google rabbit holes that two hours later leave me knowing way more about the royalty of a country that no longer exists than a California beach bum should. While you are thinking on that, ponder why have the royal families never had a party and decided on an actual standard system of hierarchical titles.  Blows. My. Mind. It’s a full time job right there, keeping that stuff straight. Much worse that Russian patronymic names.

 

Why….did I have to refresh my memory of the definition of autodidactic, only to find a verbal description of myself in way too many subjects?

 

never

I love Ford and Free, however am I the only one that finds it odd that Ford Motor Company is sponsoring a book group on Goodreads?  Can we say 850,000 recalls on the airbags alone? Chevy lovers, don’t you smile, many of your vehicles have the same airbag.

Mighty gripping book, BTW, even if the characters would have felt less alone living with me in California. Hats off to Celeste Ng and super high five for being chosen by Ford.

 

 

 

 

Morbid

Why is the dreamy Morbid Anatomy Anthology $194.68 plus shipping on Amazon and $30 plus shipping at the museum’s site itself? It isn’t like this is an exibition catalog or something; it’s a real book with an ISBN and still in the first printing.

Fabulous, even better than having to get up, turn on my PC, and catch up on what I have missed on the Morbid Anatomy Museum’s blog.  (that is taking into account that I keep the laptop at the end of the bed and just have to stretch for it)

While I am here, can we please have a coffee chat re: the Capuchin Monastery? (there is a piece and some amazing pics in the book) Let me help you  catch up…..We say death and bodies have no place in the church, so bury them in a mass grave over there…{insert time passing whistle here} Oh, look what I found while plotting a new garden…Mummies! {insert short time whistle here} let’s bring them inside and hang them on the walls, mummies are okay in the church…wait, we’rerunning out of mummies, let’s make some in the basement. Go Team!

 

thanks motomom

Are you feeling me? Beautiful, a part of life, tourist attracting and stunning way to work with what you have my friends; my hat is off to ya’ll too. Does anyone else see what is hypocritical about this bizarre history? Hmm, I wonder if I can make mummies in my yard? Didn’t that mountain over there used to be a volcano with super mummy making ash? {No offense was meant and no mummies were harmed in starting this discussion. Really, I’m not even starting on the naked baby mummies.}

Wait, there is more space here, should I share my mummy rap with you? Too bad, there isn’t that much space.

 

 

Two final notes:

1.   I have learned that there aren’t enough happy pills in the world to make me reply to comments or listen to voicemail in a timely manner. Mea Culpa. {isn’t it great when you can make a pun and be sincere at the same time?} If you have a solution, leave me a comment…{snare drum}

2.   These are just some of the things that I need to be explained since 3 PM, stay tuned. It ain’t easy being me.

 

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This may be one of the most fun and most “me” posts ever and I covered four books, one of which, Broken Monsters, was given to me by the publisher and another was sponsored by Ford. The rest, well, let’s just say there is some beans being worked into my food budget. Fiber is good for you, right? Frijole Friday it is.