Category Archives: book review

Book Review: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

Jitterbug_Perfume

I must admit that I don’t know enough Greek mythology to pick up on all the undercurrents in this book, but I enjoyed it immensely. For 50 cents from the thrift store, the book was a steal and a sure path to sleepiness. A great read, but one I could put down and then find myself thinking about in the interims of life and yearning to pick up again. A unique and unusual experience, for sure. That’s how I would describe Robbins’ writing: unique and unusual yet fascinating and alluring, a beastly breath of sultry air.

The story begins and ends with beets, which Robbins makes quite clear from the start. Beets are the blood life of the characters: Priscilla, living in Seattle, working as a waitress for most of the story, daughter to Madame Devalier, owner of the Parfumerie Devalier in the French Quarter, New Orleans; Alobar, an immortal man who imparts his wise theories on life and love based on a thousand years of experience; Kudra, Alobar’s soulmate who teaches him the power of scent and its connection to the blood of life; Pan, the stenchful god of nature and music who Alobar and Kudra take care of while he disappears over time as people stop believing in him; Wiggs Dannyboy, a famously scandalous yet genius anthropologist who re/connects Priscilla with her family and Alobar.

The story illustrates a solid connection between ancient and modern times, tethered by Earth and time. Robbins deftly created a story to ponder the meaning and limits of life and death and the role love plays as we cope with our physical and spiritual boundaries. The perfume industry formed a great backdrop through which the story unfolded, and I am especially thankful for the education on perfume about which I knew nothing. I will refrain from saying more, as I’m afraid of potential spoilers. If you’re looking for something wild and different, this book is it.

Sustainable Living: Big Picture, Baby Goals (Week 8)

In light of reading The Jungle Effect, I’m thrilled that I have already incorporated some of Dr. Miller’s findings from exploring indigenous diets around the world. For example, I am:

  • Growing much of my food
  • Learning to prepare and store food
  • Purchasing mainly whole, unprocessed, local-grown, organic foods
  • Reading labels to select the healthiest versions of processed foods
  • Preparing whole and simple processed foods in combination for synergistic health effects
  • Eating many of the foods she recommends on a regular basis such as organic milk, kefir, cinnamon, honey, vanilla, organic meat, tomatoes, cilantro, onions, cabbage, squash, green beans, olive oil, garlic, flax seed, vinegar, oregano, kale, kefir, potatoes (small, waxy, with skins), lemon, walnuts, free-range eggs, raisins, apples, ginger, and dried fruit.

I will build on these healthy habits by integrating new ones and more of the foods she recommends. I definitely need more fish and greens. In fact, this book has solidified my plans to undertake a small-scale aquaponics operation at my rural homestead because it is growing increasingly difficult to find nontoxic fish. I assume the fish recommendations Dr. Miller provides in the book are outdated given recent nuclear disasters and oil spills. Thus, I’m not willing to trust any third-party sources of fish, although I am hopeful that the organic fish market will become a viable option soon.

In general, I’m buoyed by the myriad of food and sustainability movements in the world that may deliver us back into a healthier era. Industrialization has given us lots of great inventions and social improvements but has introduced new problems for which solutions are desperately needed. Upon reflection, changes for the good are possible when the masses are paying attention and poised for change.

As for my sustainable living goals, I caught an illness earlier this week. It’s been running its course through most of my students and settling on my husband who had almost recovered when I caught it. I mistakenly thought it had passed me by, but alas, it got me. With extra doses of apple cider vinegar and ginger-infused tinctures, I was able to conquer it in a few days versus the 2- to 3-week cycle I’ve witnessed in others. Despite the illness, I managed to make cereal bars from The Homemade Pantry (easy, convenient, and delicious), order low-sugar pectin to make the jam I need for the toaster pastries, order organic vanilla beans for making homemade vanilla extract, and order seeds to grow an indoor lemon tree.

Additionally, I was able to care for and transplant seedlings. I was delighted to learn that my 12-year-old planted some seeds in science class, and we were able to compare results. Now that his seedlings have sprouted, he seems more interested in our growing efforts around the house. What a relief from the usual video-game mentality! The imitation instinct is alive and well!

My goal for next week is to master the art of composting, or at least learn all I can. I’ve begun to save some organic materials for it (banana peels, coffee grounds, veg waste, egg shellsetc.), so I need to get started. This effort will further reduce my weekly curbside contributions to the garbage collectors.

Thanks for reading and sharing your sustainable living experiences!

A.M. Tuesday

I think this will be the most helpful, practical “diet” book I’ve ever read. I’ve never read one all the way through until now, but I believe I will use this one every day for the rest of my life. It just makes sense.

In the beginning, Dr. Miller confesses to trying to handle her patients’ health problems as any doctor would, offering the usual diets, exercises, and prescriptions. But they rarely worked and sometimes made the problems worse. The typical health issues she witnessed in her San Francisco practice included depression, heart disease, respiratory disease, bowel disease, diabetes, cancer, and the like. Dr. Miller gives several reasons for her inability to lend patients reliable diet advice: (1) nutrition contributes to overall health in the long-term, and few studies run long enough to determine the outcomes of consuming certain nutrients; (2) foods with the same name may contain vastly different…

View original post 1,383 more words