Escape is an amazing true story about a young woman who belonged to the fundamentalist polygamist sect of the Mormon church. Carolyn Jessop tells how at the age of 18 she was chosen to marry a 50 year old man with three existing wives.

The underlying question for me is what makes a woman have 8 children in 15 years and live in a house with 50 others (6 sister wives and 45 + children) but only one husband? Carolyn Jessop truly helps me understand (albeit not agree with) how her situation could possibly exist today – being a third generation in this “cult” as she calls it, is all she’s ever known.

After years of abuse from husband, sister wives and the sect in general, Carolyn secures a plan of escape with her 8 children ranging in ages from 15 yrs. to 18 months. This is the same FLDS controlled by Warren Jeffs that has recently been all over the news.

Her story is organized and told objectively. It also made for some awesome conversations!

The biggest factor in a successful vacation is achieving a change of perspective, and in these times of rising costs many people are choosing to “get away from it all” while staying close to home. The Quad Cities have a lot to offer – we’re a vacation destination for many. In fact, in an April, 2008 article entitled “Great River Road Trip” the National Geographic Traveler magazine recommends Davenport, Iowa, as the “most rewarding stop.” A family could have more than enough activities to fill a week’s worth of vacation right here at home.

The Quad Cities Convention and Visitors Bureau has a wealth of recommendations and ideas for vacationing close to home. And if you’d like to explore surrounding areas, the site also has some great Day Tripping suggestions.

The Davenport Library recommends these titles for Iowa travel:

The Great Iowa Touring Book: 27 Spectacular Auto Tours by Mike Whye

Great Iowa Walks: 50 Strolls, Rambles, Hikes and Treks by Lynn L. Walters

Country Roads of Iowa by Loralee Wenger

Perhaps your family would enjoy a day trip, or longer, to one of the many beautiful Iowa State Parks. And, of course, there are many beautiful state parks across the river in Illinois.

Whatever you do, where ever you go in the QC region, have a great summer!

Agatha Christie’s mystery, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd is a beloved classic; however, critics have said that Christie broke a fundamental rule of mystery writing when she revealed her murderer. How could this author, so renowned for her puzzle-making ability, have have made such a mistake? And, of course, no one thought to question detective Hercule Poirot’s conclusions. Until now.

Pierre Bayard has written a delightfully enjoyable mystery about Christie’s book. (Spoiler alert: if you intend to read Christie’s book first, then don’t click on the Bayard link because the murderer [as revealed by Christie] is revealed in the book’s description.) In his book, Who Killed Roger Ackroyd? Bayard questions Poirot’s conclusions and makes a very strong case for his argument that the famed detective is wrong!

If it’s been a while since you’ve read the original, you might want to read that first and then pick up Bayard’s book (although Bayard’s book stands up perfectly well on its own). If you’re a fan of mysteries (and even if you don’t particularly like Agatha Christie) you won’t be disappointed.


On Monday, May 12th, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), raided Agriprocessors Inc., a slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa. This was not only the largest ICE raid in Iowa, but in fact the largest single-site enforcement operation of it’s kind in the country. The over 300 detainees include Guatemalans, Mexicans, Israelis and Ukrainians. While this story has been widely reported in the local media, little has been said about Agriprocessors Inc., other than that it’s the largest kosher meat packing plant in the country.

Although not a new book, Stephen Bloom’s, Postville: A Clash of Cultures in Heartland America, is an especially timely read that explains much about what is occurring in the small northeastern Iowa town. In 1987 a Brooklyn butcher purchased an abandoned slaughterhouse just outside the city limits of Postville. The town of about 1500 people had become economically stagnant so they welcomed the opportunity for new business growth, and saw little concern that the new operators of this plant were Lubavitchers, ultra-Orthodox Hasidic Jews. By 1996, Postville, which had hardly ever had any Jews, now had more rabbis per capita than any other city in the U.S. The success of the plant also brought an onslaught of immigrant workers to the area. Relations between the the Midwestern Lutherans, who dominated Postville, and the Lubavitchers, who traditionally live and work within their own closely knit community, soon broke down.

Bloom, a University of Iowa journalism professor weaves the story of this small divided town into his own search for cultural and religious identity. He does an excellent job of exploring what it means to be an American, the limits of diversity and community, and the nature of community. In light of Monday’s raid, Bloom’s work provides an insightful history of Postville and Agriprocessors Inc.

how-to-eat-supper.jpgAs a devoted fan of NPRs The Splendid Table, I was anxiously awaiting this cookbook. I must admit at first glance I was slightly disappointed because I didn’t see lots of food pictures. It took almost no time though for me to fall in love with How to Eat Supper.

As loyal listeners know, Lynne and Sally share an immense curiosity about all things food. Like the show, this book goes far beyond the recipe to include history, techniques, references, and great stories. There is also a “Building the Library” blurb every few pages that suggests other great cookbooks. Some wonderful quotes about food and eating from a diverse group of people, the likes of Henry David Thoreau to Miss Piggy are also included.

Even though the categories of recipes run the usual gamut of salads to sweets, the individual recipes themselves are far from the normal supper fare. Not to worry though, even novice cooks will find that these are things that they can cook.

I’m going to try the Pan Crisped Deviled Eggs. Let me know what recipe you try!

Farmer’s Market season is upon us! Despite the flood, The Davenport Freight House Farmer’s Market will be open bright and early Saturday morning. Check out the Radish for a comprehensive list of all the area markets. Besides the great produce, there well be other fun events in which to partake while shopping. The Davenport Public Library will be there for storytelling on the third Wednesday of each month. Cooking demonstrations are scheduled later in the season. Support our local farmers and feel good about helping to reduce the amount of fossil fuelPlenty it takes to get produce from field to fork. Here are a couple of books that helped inspire me to be a locavore.

In Plenty: One Man, One Woman, and a Raucous Year of Eating Locally, a Vancouver couple recount their experiment of living on a diet of foods grown within 100 miles of their home. They went so far as to not use salt or oil since these staples were not locally produced. They also experience the joys of growing some of their own food as well as getting to know local producers of the items they purchase. The authors learn a lot about nutrition, uncommon varieties of fruits, vegetables and herbs, as well as share their experiences in canning tomatoes and making jam. While not everyone will want to take such a radical approach to being a locavore, this book offers an eye-opening account of what it means to step outside Animal, Vegetable, Miracleof the industrial food system.

Well known novelist, Barbara Kingsolver also took a year to drop out of the industrial food pipeline. In Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life, she chronicles her family’s move to rural Virginia where they vow to buy only food raised in their own neighborhood, grow it themselves, or learn to live without it. The Kingsolver’s plant a huge garden and spend considerable time making pickles, canning tomatoes, and even making mozzarella. They even abandon their previous vegetarian ways and discover the pleasures of conscientious carnivory as they raise chickens and turkeys.

Green building and remodeling offer opportunities to save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resourses, improve air and water quality, and reduce waste. If all buildings in the U.S. met leading green building standards, national energy use and global warming emissions would drop by 10%. Here are a couple of books that can help you make your home green.

building-green.jpgIf you are considering building a small new home, take a look at Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods: Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs. The book starts with building fundamentals, has a short course on design, and then moves to hands-on building. It has lots of great color photographs that made me yearn for that straw bale house I’ve been dreaming of for years. It should be noted that the plans in this book are for a guest house, but the techniques could undoubtedly be used for larger construction.

Thinking about doing some remodeling and want to make your green-remodeling.jpghome a little more eco-friendly? Green Remodeling is a good place to start. This book covers a wide range of topics such as reducing home energy use, selecting nontoxic products, saving water, and supporting the environment through the use of products that support responsible manufacturing and the sustainable harvesting of natural resources. Projects have step-by-step guides as well as detailed pictures and drawings. Even if you aren’t planning a do it yourself remodel, this book can serve as starting point for going green in your home.

Green building and remodeling offer opportunities to save energy, cut greenhouse gas emissions, conserve natural resourses, improve air and water quality, and reduce waste. If all buildings in the U.S. met leading green building standards, national energy use and global warming emissions would drop by 10%. Here are a couple of books that can help you make your home green.

building-green.jpgIf you are considering building a small new home, take a look at Building Green: A Complete How-To Guide to Alternative Building Methods: Earth Plaster, Straw Bale, Cordwood, Cob, Living Roofs. The book starts with building fundamentals, has a short course on design, and then moves to hands-on building. It has lots of great color photographs that made me yearn for that straw bale house I’ve been dreaming of for years. It should be noted that the plans in this book are for a guest house, but the techniques could undoubtedly be used for larger construction.

Thinking about doing some remodeling and want to make your green-remodeling.jpghome a little more eco-friendly? Green Remodeling is a good place to start. This book covers a wide range of topics such as reducing home energy use, selecting nontoxic products, saving water, and supporting the environment through the use of products that support responsible manufacturing and the sustainable harvesting of natural resources. Projects have step-by-step guides as well as detailed pictures and drawings. Even if you aren’t planning a do it yourself remodel, this book can serve as starting point for going green in your home.

EarthHere are some small changes that will not only reduce your ecological footprint, but may even save you money and help you live a happier, healthier life!

1. Bring your own bags when shopping. An average American family acquires 60 plastic bags per week and rarely reuses them.

2. Buy local. Produce at a local farmer’s market may be more expensive, but you are almost always guaranteed a high quality product. Buying goods produced locally reduces the fossil fuels needed to transport items across the country and around the globe. Do you really need to eat that banana from Central America?

3. Green your coffee habit. Each year Americans throw away 138 billion straws and stirrers, 110 billion cups, and 58 billion plastic utensils. Many coffee shops give a discount if you bring your own receptacle, so buy a couple of mugs and keep one in your car.

4. Yes you can drive 55! Slowing down really does save gas. For every mile per hour faster than 55 mph, fuel economy drops by 1%. The drop-off increases at a greater rate after 65 mph. Also to remember to keep your tires inflated to the correct air pressure.

5. Stop buying bottled water. Consider buying a reusable container and drinking tap water. Bottled water is an incredibly wasteful product. It is usually packaged in single serving bottles made of fossil fuels. It then travels miles to its destination using more energy. The Earth Policy Institute estimates that the bottled water industry consumes the equivalent of 50 million barrels of oil annually, the same as having 3 million additional cars on the road.

For more ways to go green at home, check out Easy Green Living: the Ultimate Guide to Simple, Eco-Friendly Choices for You and Your Home by Renee Loux for lots of tips and ideas and which urges you to start with small steps that anyone can accomplish. Earth Day is for everyone, every day.

Sex Sleep Eat Drink DreamSex Sleep Eat Drink Dream takes an insightful tour through a day in the life of our bodies. Divided into morning, midday, afternoon, evening, and night, Ackerman explores how we are very much driven by internal clocks that guide our daily rhythms. She does a great job of intertwining biology with plenty of interesting anecdotes. This is not a medical book but rather an informative commentary on the wonderment of the human body. Being one who loves factoids, I found some great ones in this book including:

  • Air released from your lungs when sneezing travels at 500 mph.
  • Coffee’s flavor is 75% smell. In fact all flavors are mostly smell.
  • Thinking about exercise can actually boost strength in the muscles involved. This is the best excuse to avoiding exercise that I’ve heard!
  • Yawning is contagious in only about half the population, and it’s probably the half with the most self-awareness and empathy.
  • The amount of calories we consume in foods may not be a fixed value but rather influenced by the nature of our gut microbes. That doughnut may have 30% more calories for you than your neighbor.