Sunday, October 28, 2012

Book Review: The Anatomist's Wife by Anna Lee Huber

The Anatomist's Wife (Berkley Prime Crime, $15.00) is a love story masquerading as a historical crime novel - and it's a good one!

Lady Kiera Darby came to the Gairloch estate in an attempt to hide from London's nobility. Her sister, the countess of Gairloch, welcomed her with open arms following the death -- and resulting mess -- of Kiera's husband, a respected anatomist living in the shadow of the great Burke and Hare scandal.

A painter by trade, Kiera takes refuge in Scotland and removes herself from the swirling world of manners and hateful gossip that plagues her.

An ancient castle beside a turbulent Scotch loch is ideal for a creepy murder mystery. The late Georgian period comes alive on the pages of this fast-paced thriller, as the reader is introduced to a party of selfish socialites visiting Gairloch. Each is hell-bent on getting their own way and climbing into the upper echelons of the ton, acquaintances be damned.

When the beautiful Lady Godwin's mutilated body is discovered in the gardens after dinner, it is clear that a cold-hearted murder walks among them - but who?

The isolated estate is set to lock-down for days, awaiting the arrival of the proper authorities. In the interim, the charming (and stubborn) Sebastian Gage, son of a well-respected investigator, attempts to unravel the mystery on his own terms.

A misunderstood artist with a dark past, the innocent Kiera is immediately suspected as Lady Godwin's vicious murderer. With all signs pointing to her guilt, the young Lady Darby must find a way to convince her family and their anxious guests that she is not the murderer. Independent to a fault, she must learn to work alongside Mr. Gage... and somehow convince him that she has been framed.With all bets against her, Kiera must solve the mystery before the murder can silence her forever.

Many tales of love and loss are woven into the plot of this quick read. Each character strives to find their own sort of happiness, whether that be realized through true love or the beds of their friends' wives and husbands. Unrequited love, unfulfilled dreams and a hunger for something more are what drive Huber's characters to their blessed and bitter ends.

No historical thriller is complete without a bit of romance. Huber's well-crafted characters are at times exasperating, but endearing. As this novel came to an end I slowed my reading, hoping to stretch and savor the last few pages. I didn't want to say goodbye to clever Kiera and the handsome Mr. Gage.

Anna Lee Huber must be awfully proud of her first novel. It is saturated with well-researched historical tidbits, providing a feeling of authenticity often difficult to achieve in this genre.  A stellar debut, and I look forward to the next installment of her promising "Lady Darby" mystery series.

Get this novel  from your local, independent bookseller!  

The Anatomist's Wife: A Lady Darby Mystery 
will be released on November 6, 2012.

Audrey Barton has been regularly reviewing fiction and non fiction since 2009.

Please post review copies to:
Audrey Barton
c/o Curious Book Shop
307 East Grand River Avenue
East Lansing, Michigan 48823

"Girlie" historical mysteries recently reviewed, by yours truly:
When Maidens Mourn by C.S. Harris
The Deathly Portent by Elizabeth Bailey

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Ultimate Apocalypse Reading List : Dystopian Books of the 20th Century - With Reviews

This list of dystopian fiction and non fiction is a work in progress.
If you have suggestions, please suggest them!

Compiling this list is a labor of love. It is based upon our private collection of dystopian and self-sufficiency books. Many of these books are widely available, but not at your local big-box bookstore or library. If you'd like to borrow my copy or want to know how to find these books locally, please ask.

I am an independent book seller by day and a small-scale homesteader by night. Though I don't hold a degree in dystopian literature, I think this list has more than enough gravitas to be taken seriously. These are not just books about zombies and plagues, and ecological disasters. These books take a close look at how people suffer, fail, survive and thrive in the face of disaster.

My goal is to share this list with others.
I don't profit from this blog, but I would appreciate credit to this blog if you share this list with friends.

These books are sorted by genre, and are listed in alphabetic order by the author's surname.

(( Last Updated 1.3.2014))

Adult Fiction

The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams
  Making good use of the zombie craze, this zombie anthology features stories by Clive Barker, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Joe Hill (King's son), George R. R. Martin and Poppy Z. Brite. It was a big-box bookstore bestseller. and clocks in at just under 500 pages.

Fallout by Kevin J. Anderson and Doug Beason
  A "hard science fiction" novel about a future America, in which militia groups have gained control and are hell-bent on destroying us all. Published by Ace in 1997.

But What of Earth? by Piers Anthony and Robert Coulson
  "The Earth of the not-too-distant future is a dying world - overcrowded, polluted; its resources are almost exhausted; its people grow sickly. Then, at the eleventh hour, an amazing scientific breakthrough makes possible the impossible - escape to the stars! The stampede to leave - to open up new worlds and found new civilizations creates a heady delirium for most. But What of Earth? Those left behind must build a life for themselves out of the shambles of their world... or die." A 1976 Laser Books publication (#44), with strange cover art by Kelly Freas.

Nightfall and Other Stories by Isaac Asimov
  A collection of 20 stories by Asimov, focusing on the civilization of Earth in various scenarios which threaten our culture and safety. Published by Fawcett in 1969.

What If You Were the Last Man on Earth edited by Isaac Asimov, Greenberg and Waugh
  A collection of stories by various science fiction authors, about various solitary Earthlings and their time on a ravaged planet far beyond the control of the human race.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Maddadam by Margaret Atwood

The Crystal World by J. G. Ballard

Through Darkest America by Neal Barrett, Jr.
An oft-overlooked coming-of-age tale that morphs into a dystopian nightmare. America, post-WWIII. Not for the squeamish!

Shiva Descending by Gregory Benford and William Rotsler
  Published by Avon in 1980.

The Inevitable Hour by Martyn Boggon
  "Chicago destroyed... radiation spreads... vast Russian areas devastated... California death toll millions... Washington hit... peace is dead!" Award Books, 1968.

Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle

Day by Day Armageddon by J.L. Bourne
  Published by Permuted Press in 2007, at the beginning of the zombie craze. This novel is one man's story of day-to-day survival as zombies spread across America and the world. 

After the Rain by John Bowen
  Published in 1959.

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks
  A beautifully written, award-winning historical novel of the Black Plague, and those who suffered.

World War Z by Max Brooks
  The ultimate zombie thriller.

Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler
GREAT BOOK. Published in 1993. The compelling story of a unique heroine struggling to survive in California as society crumbles around her and her tight-knit community. I'll read the sequel, Parable of the Talents, as soon as I get my hands on a copy!

Ecotopia by Ernest Callenbach
  A novel of future America - a personal favorite. 

Psychedelic-40 by Louis Charbonneau
A "frighteningly prophetic novel" about the world in 1993 - one ruled by super-powered men with the ability to read the minds of ordinary people. A true piece of alarmist fiction that "shows you the U.S.A. as it could become under the rule of irresponsible, power-mad politicos" published in 1965.

No Blade of Grass by John Christoper
  You'll never look at a plant the same way, ever again. This tale of ecological horrors was published in 1959. They made this into a movie in the 1960s, but I haven't been able to track down a copy. This is not a book you will easily forget.

The Long Winter by John Christopher

The Heirs of Babylon by Glen Cook

Dark December by Alfred Coppel

  Millions are killed in an atomic World War III. Major Kenneth Gavin - one of few survivors - must now live with his choices in this new and suffering world. Published by Fawcett in 1960.

Thirty-four East by Alfred Coppel
  This 1974 international bestseller offers a chilling vision of a world in chaos, terrified of global atomic warfare.

A Journal of the Plauge Year by Daniel Defoe
  First published in 1927, this is the tale of London during the Black Plauge in the 1660s.
The Penultimate Truth by Philip K. Dick
  "The time is 1982, the story is a unique blend of genius and madness - of men and machines gone berserk in a world they created." Most people have moved underground - literally - after the fallout from World War III. Though the war ended 10 years ago, most are not aware of it's closure. A few men live upon the surface, where they help to continue the fake "reality" created by the men in power. Published by Belmont in 1964.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
  "The day after the bomb dropped the thousands of years of 'progress' that had covered the treacheries and weaknesses of ordinary man with a thin veneer of civilization were dissolved and melted like snow on the desert's dusty face. Then - the law of the jungle reigned but in the wrekage a few courageous survivors, men and women with the guts to have hope, were determined to build a new and better world on the ruins of the old. This is their story." Published in 1959, this is one of the best dystopian novels in existance, and a favorite in our collection.

Apocalypse Wow!: A Memoir for the End of Time by James Finn Garner
  A a charming, tongue-in-cheek parody of zombies and conspiracy theories by one of the funniest writers alive.

The Last Days of the Late, Great State of California by Curt Gentry
  Published in 1968.

Down to a Sunless Sea by David Graham
  "1985: The dollar has plummeted so low it can't be given away, and full-scale rationing is in effect. Meanwhile, airports are being raided by mobs of civillians desperate to leave the country - and the military has orders to shoot to kill. Then suddenly a bigger disaster strikes, spinning the entire globe into cataclysm. Now only 600 survivors remain - and it's up to them to keep the human race alive..." Published by Fawcett Crest in 1981.

Extinction by Ray Hammond
  Destruction by nature is the name of the game in this ecological disaster novel of the near future, published in 2005. 

Eden by W.A. Harbinson
  Published by Dell in 1987.

The Deadly Messiah by David Campbell Hill and Albert Fay Hill
  A doomsday plague is unleashed on the world. Will the President's team of extraordinary thinkers reverse the plague and save 40 million lives? (Probably.) Published by Avon in 1977.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

The Stand by Stephen King

Berserk by Tim Lebbon

Shelter by Dan Ljoka

The Chameleon Variant by Carol K. Mack and David Ehrenfeld
  In this 1980 novel a fast-moving epidemic spirals out of control, turning innocent people into violent and unpredictable monsters.

The Bridge by D. Keith Mano
  "The time is the near future. Humanity has lost its will to live. Everywhere primeval nature is reclaiming the earth from the species that has for so long dominated it. The government itself has abandoned the struggle and has even decreed the suicied of civilization." Published by Signet in 1974.

I Am Legend by Richard Matheson

Swan Song by Robert McCammon
A post-apocalypse epic published in 1987.

A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller

Eden: A Zombie Novel by Tony Monchinski

Hater by David Moody
  "It occurs without warning - sudden, vicious, and lethal attacks. Why are people attacking their friends, their family, even complete strangers? Is it a virus, is it a terrorist attack, or is it something more primal? An overwhelming terror has gripped the country and there's no one to trust - not even yourself. In the tradition of H.G. Wells, Anthony Burgess, and Richard Matheson, Hater is one man's story of his place in a world gone mad - a world infected with fear, violence and HATE."

The Time of the Hawklords by Michael Moorcock and Michael Butterworth

The 40 Minute War by Janet and Chris Morris
  Washington, D.C. is wiped off the face of the map by a nuclear blast in this 1984 novel.

The Wine of Violence by James Morrow

The City, Not Long After by Pat Murphy
This book rocks. Find a copy and don't let go! 
Dystopian California, long enough after the fall that society is beginning to reform. Interesting dichotomy: artists vs warriors. It's all quite brilliant.

1984 by George Orwell

Dying to Live: A Novel of Life Among the Undead by Kim Paffenroth

City Wars by Dennis Palumbo
  A novel of doom and destruction in Chicago and its battle with New York, published by Bantam Books in 1979.

Meteorite Track 291 by Gary Paulsen
  Published by Dell in 1979.

The Executioner: Plague Wind (Mack Bolan - Power Trilogy Book II) by Don Pendleton
 Many of the Executioner and Mack Bolan adventures deal with saving the world from certain destruction. This novel focuses on the threat of Ebola, and the consipracy to use it as a weapon against the people.1998, Gold Eagle Adventure.

The 11th Plague by L.T. Peters
  The US suffers from a mysterious, malicious bacteria in this 1973 novel - similar to The Andromeda Strain.

Jem by Frederik Pohl
"In a time when there are no nations on Earth, only mutually hostile power blocs, suddenly a new inhabited planet is discovered: Jem." First published in 1979.

Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle
  "A few years after tomorrow, above a ruined Los Angeles where crime, violence, pollution and poverty still rule the streets, a Utopia rises. Todos Santos. A thousand-foot-high single-structured city. The perfect blend of technology and humanism, offering its privileged dwellers everything they could want in exchange for their oath of allegiance and their constant surveillance. But there are those who would see Utopia destroyed. Those who would tear down the hope of tomorrow in violent act after violent act. And they have just entered Todos Santos..." One of Sean's favorites, published in 1981.

Patriots, Survivors and Founders by James Wesley, Rawles
  These three companion novels take place in modern-day America, after a severe socio-economic meltdown called "The Crunch". After local economies and communities crumble, millions succumb to illness and unpreparedness. These three Christian novels tell the tale of those who remain, and what becomes of America after the end. They're chock-full of good (and bad) ideas for the fledgling or experienced prepper. The overt focus on weaponry and military survival tactics was off-putting, at first. I thought they weren't my style, but after reading these books I consider myself a fan of Rawles, and eagerly await the next installment!

Plague of the Dead: The Morningstar Strain by Z.A. Recht
  "When a massive military operation fails to contain the plague of the living dead it escalates into a global pandemic. In one fell swoop, the necessities of life become much more basic. Gone are petty everyday concerns. Gone are the amenities of civilized life. Yet a single law of nature remains: Live, or die. Kill, or be killed." This 2006 publication has a military focus, and was one of the first titles in Sean's zombie collection.

Level 7 by Mordecai Roshwald
  "A horrifying, prophetic document of the future - the diary of a man living 4000 feet underground in a society hell-bent on atomic self-destruction." Published in 1959.

The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell

The Texas-Israeli War: 1999 by Jake Saunders and Howard Waldrop
  "Rebellious Texans have kidnapped the president of the U.S.A. His future - and indeed the future of the country - depends on a band of fearless Israelis whose courage has been tested in other wars!" Published by Ballantine Books in 1974.

The Book of Dave by Will Self
  A dystopian fantasy set in post-apocalyptic London, full of relegious allegories and mystery, which pays homage to pop culture greats from Monty Python to Jonathan Swift.

The Last Breath by Eugene Carl Shaffer
  This novel of a troubled planet Earth was published by Papillon Books in 1974, and is a well-researched warning from the author.

The Purple Cloud by M.P. Shiel
  One of the great early apocalyptic novels, first published in 1930. Shiel's novel received fabulous reviews from H.G. Wells and other esteemed writers, and continues to be a favorite within the genre.

On the Beach by Nevil Shute

Epidemic! by Frank G. Slaughter
  "A chilling account of germ warfare when America's enemies unleashed a plague of Black Death in New York City." Published in 1961. 

Doomsday Wing by George H. Smith
  This American tale of military destruction was published by Monarch Books  in 1963.

Earth Abides by George R. Stewart
  A classic! First published in 1949, this novel has withstood the test of time and is widely considered to be the best dystopian science fiction novel of the 20th century. Though older than most books on this list, Stewart's masterpiece is the first book I recommend to customers looking for a good read. Check out some of my favorite quotes and an image of the first paperback edition.

Out There by Adrien Stoutenburg
  A tale of ecological destruction in 21st century America, published in 1972.

Warday by Whitley Strieber and James Kunetka
  An alternate history of America in the late 1980s and early 1990s, after the world as we know it has been destroyed. Another of Sean's favorites.

The Apocalypse Reader edited by Justin Taylor
  An apocalyptic anthology of thirty-four doomsday scenarios. This collection features stories by Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Edgar Allan Poe, Joyce Carol Oates and others..

Red Planet by Peter Telep
  A novel based on teh story by Chuck Pfarrer and the Warner Brothers movie of the same title, this movie tie-in tells the tale of a ruined Earth in 2050 and the hope for a new beginning on Mars.

The Colony by Mary Vigilante
  "The nuclear war was over in an afternoon. Both sides lost. Now a young woman alone faced teh brutal society of the survivors..." Published by Manor Books, 1979.

Only Lovers Left Alive by Dave Wallis

Death on a Warm Wind by Douglas Warner
  "No one listened to Colston when the physicist predicted a warm wind would carry death and to the large resort and the happy vacationers there, making love, swimming, watching their children play. A tough politician has silenced Colston for his own reasons. Now, he was again trying to shut the old man up, although Colston's awful prediction had come true. A warm wind is blowing toward London, the same mysterious wind, Colston raved, that had maimed and killed at the resort. It took a young newspaperman to uncover the politician's motive. But he couldn't stop the wind..." Published by Belmont Books in 1968.

Children of the Light by Susan B. Weston
  "Accidentally marooned in a ravaged future, nineteen-year-old Jeremy Towers is almost literally the last man on earth. He is one of the very last sexually fertile men in a world populated by women subsistence farmers, wandering mutants and a few sterile males. A cast-away from the Time of the Light - pre-holocaust America - Jeremy becomes not merely the key to the survival of the species bu tthe principal pawn in the political battle to create a new - and perhaps different - world." Published by St. Martin's Press in 1985.

Where Late the Sweet Birds Sang by Kate Wilehelm

Quick Fall of Light by Sherrida Woodley
This recently published (2010) award-winner chronicles a world-wide flu epidemic and one woman's struggle. It's an environmental thriller unlike the other books on this list, and is often overlooked though it has fabulous reviews from respected writers and environmentalists.

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin
  This Russian tale of the downfall of the human race, similar to Brave New World and 1984, was translated into English by Mirra Ginsburg and published  in 1972.

Youth Fiction

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The City of Ember and The People of Sparks by Jeanne DuPrau

The Girl Who Owned a City by O.T. Nelson
  This was the first dystopian novel I recall reading. It was part of the curriculum at my  public middle school in Michigan, until parents cottoned on. Some angry mommies made a stink, and the books were taken away. I was sick during this scuffle, and was lucky enough to finish reading this riveting novel before I gave it back to the teacher. This story of urban American children much like ourselves, left to fend for themselves after all adults succumb to a mysterious illness, has stuck with me ever since. Finding a copy of this novel can be challenging, but it's well worth it.
Please read my Kiddie-Lit'er Review for more about this great YA novel!

The Big Empty by J.B. Stephens
  A handful of teenage survivors in a world ravaged by a mysterious plague, eking out their existence in an America controlled by military dictators and barbaric survivors.

Prepper Books

The Formula Book by Norman Stark
  This handy underground bestseller was published by Avon Books in 1975. It won't help you defeat the zombies, but it is a handy reference for making every-day products at a fraction of the price, like mouth wash, furniture polish, suntan lotion and soap.

Non Fiction

Chemical and Biological Warfare: America's Hidden Arsenal by Seymour M. Hersh
  This Doubleday publication was marketed as a political science book upon publication in 1969. It is a comprehensive, documented look at America's role in the development of weapons of destruction during the Cold War and in Vietnam.

No High Ground by Fletcher Knebel and Charles W. Bailey II
  First published in 1960, this is the "true" story of the first atomic bomb and the men who made it. "It is the whole, never-before-told account of experiments in heavily-guarded laboratories, of bitter arguments in top-secret White House conferences, of frantic, doomed peace negotiations. It is the story of men - big and little, famous and anonymous, conqueror and conquered - all caught up in the single, cataclysmic event that profoundly changed the direction of history and the shape of our world!"

Killer Germs by Pete Moore, BSc, PhD
  A book about new and emergent diseases and their threat to Americans in the 21st century.

The Crazy Iris and Other Stories of the Atomic Aftermath edited by Kenzaburo Oe    
  A Japanese collection of short stories about the tragedy of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

The Demon in the Freezer by Richard Preston

The Hot Zone by Richard Preston

Panic in Level 4 by Richard Preston

Voltaire's Bastards: The Dictatorship of Reason in the West by John Ralston Saul

The Doubter's Compainon: A Dictionary of Agressive Common Sense by John Ralston Saul

Rising Plauge by Brad Spellberg, MD
"The global threat from deadly bacteria and our dwindling arsenal to fight them." Published by Prometheus Books in 2009.

Miscellaneous (Fictional Non Fiction, Graphic Novels and Other Stuff)

Blackgas by Warren Ellis
  Vicious zombies, in graphic novel form.

The Walking Dead by R. Kirkman, C. Adlard and C. Rathburn
  A long and frightening graphic novel series - don't skip this one!

The Zombie Combat Manual: A Guide to Fighting the Living Dead  by Roger Ma
 Published by Berkley Books in 2010, to capitalize on the popularity of zombies in pop culture.

Dead Bunnies: Good & Evil, Continued

Late Friday night, in the middle of a spirited game of Settlers of Catan, Sean got a disturbing phone call.

A friendly pro-garden neighbor of Poppin' Fresh called with grim news. Vandals, probably the same schmucks who tampered with our hutches last week (and stole three baby bunnies) were at it again.

Domestic rabbits like our New Zealands are very docile animals, sort of like sheep. These rabbits don't stand a chance against predators, and we had gone to great lengths to build a safe enclosure for their hutches.

The Vandals had taken all 7 rabbits from their cages, removed them from the fenced-in hutch area, and set them loose in the garden.

Neighborhood cats had found our rabbits long before a neighbor noticed them hopping around, unprotected. The cats made quick work of the baby bunnies. It was about 11:30 when the Sean got to Poppin' Fresh. By then, four of the baby rabbits were already dead.

After some desperate hunting, we recovered the doe and buck, and one baby rabbit.

The plants, water containment set-up and hoop house were untouched. There's always a silver lining.

Sketch by CamillaAnne on Deviantart

This destruction of property and animal cruelty has gone unanswered, much to our chagrin. We called the Lansing PD, but they're stretched thin and uninterested in small crimes. We fear causing further animosity, and have removed these three bunnies from the garden. They're in a "secure location."

We're not sure where to go, from here.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Adversaria 6

The following quotes aren't "New" in the modern sense, but don't let their age devalue them.

"The time to guard against corruption and tyranny is before they shall have gotten hold of us. It is better to keep the wolf out of the fold than to trust to drawing his teeth and talons after he shall have entered." Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia

"It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning." Henry Ford

"Our society is so fragile, so dependent on the interworkings of things to provide us with goods and services, that you don't need nuclear warfare to fragment us anymore than the Romans needed it to cause their eventual downfall."  Gene Roddenberry

"Since I entered politics, I have chiefly had men's views confided to me privately. Some of the biggest men in the United States, in the Field of commerce and manufacture, are afraid of something. They know that there is a power somewhere so organized, so subtle, so watchful, so interlocked, so complete, so pervasive, that they better not speak above their breath when they speak in condemnation of it." Woodrow Wilson

"We live in a dirty and dangerous world. There are some things the general public does not need to know and shouldn't. I believe democracy flourishes when the government can take legitimate steps to keep its secrets, and when the press can decide whether to print what it knows."
Katherine Graham

"Man's mind is his basic tool of survival." Ayn Rand

"The ruling class has the schools and press under its thumb. This enables it to sway the emotions of the masses." Albert Einstein

"The evils of tyranny are rarely seen but by him who resists it." John Hay, Castilian Days II, 1872

"A prudent man forseeth the evil and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished." - Provers 27:12, KJV
"If ye love wealth better than liberty, the tranquility of servitude better than the animating contest of freedom, go home from us in peace. We ask not your counsel nor your arms. Crouch down and lick the hands which feed you. May your chains set lightly upon you, and may posterity forget that you were our countrymen." Samuel Adams, 1776

"If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their money, first by inflation and then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around them (around the banks), will deprive the people of their property until their children will wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered."
Thomas Jefferson

"The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything." 
Albert Einstein 


Thursday, October 11, 2012

Good and Evil in the Garden

"Let us never forget that the cultivation of the earth 
is the most important labor of man. 
When tillage begins, other arts follow. 
 The farmers, therefore, are the founders of civilization." 
Daniel Webster

Mother Rabbit with a snack of dandelion leaves

Yesterday, three of our baby bunnies went missing.

They were taken by neighborhood kids, who were overcome by the cuteness of our wee little rabbits. Can you blame them? I may have done the same, 20 years ago. (Gah! So old!)

Trouble is, the baby bunnies are not yet weened. Taking them from the mother rabbit is a death sentence. Of course, the kids didn't realize this. On a hunch, two friendly gardeners made a visit to the kids' grandmother and explained the situation.

By this morning two of the three baby rabbits had returned. The third, I'm sorry to say, will not have survived this long away from the hutch.

 We run a community garden, and happily share our knowledge and harvest with our neighbors. We have greens and veggies and gourds aplenty! For the most part, our neighbors have been friendly and supportive of the garden. We've canvassed the neighborhood, introduced ourselves and invited everyone to stop by and take a look (and some food) whenever they're free. There are no locks on the gates, and plenty of food and flowers to share. Good communication has helped the garden. Some neighbors are protective of the plot when we're not there, and are happy to have a robust garden on their block. After two years of toiling in the dirt where abandoned houses once stood, we've been accepted as a part of the neighborhood.

Unfortunately, not everyone has been so welcoming. When people become suspicious or feel threatened they resort to selfish, hurtful acts. The garden has had its fair share of  anonymous, destructive events. Last month, we found a long fluorescent light bulb smashed and hidden amongst our tomatoes.  This is not the first time a stranger has tampered with the rabbits, but it is the most egregious.
evil tomato by jv9ufxcy on DeviantArt
 I don't know if it's the election, or the books I'm reading, or just my own paranoia, but there seems to be an awful lot of evil in the world, these days. I'm not exactly saying that today is worse than yesterday, or last year, or the last century... but it is NOT any better. Rather than think critically and make independent choices, more and more Americans (Earthlings, really) have fallen in to the mass media / consumerism trap. You cannot easily blame these "Sheeple" when everything they've been told to think and do has lead them into this trap. We can't think and speak independently in this "modern" world. There's too much information being thrown into our faces, so quickly we find it impossible to successfully synthesize and process. It's easier to tune out, or rather to tune into something more palatable and mind-numbing.
 There are so many seemingly-important news stories that it can be hard to keep up. And why keep up, anyway? Increasingly, I feel like I can't make that much of a difference. Our most powerful tool to bring about change is our vote, but I feel as though my vote is increasingly marginalized.Some say you can vote with your dollars, which is true, but also largely ineffective. What we need to do is start TALKING to each other about things that really matter. We need to stop staring at our computers and smart phones and start looking into the eyes of people around us. Talk to your neighbors, co-workers, family and friends. Find out what's important to them, and what they think of our current state. When we're afraid and distrusting of one another, as well as our news sources and government, who else can we turn to but ourselves?

We are constantly barraged by "unbiased" news stories and the opinions of others. In this sped-up globalized world, what's important is often overshadowed and quickly buried by the latest political mumbo-jumbo and gobbly-gook. We often forget about the details of the last article that seemed so important, which is what "they" want from us. Quiet consumption and little actual action makes this oligarchy's job far easier.

Enough about "us" and "them," though. I won't go all Bilderberg on you, today.

When we stop listening and thinking critically, and stop talking to one another about where our society is headed, what will become of us?

((edited 10.15.12))

Monday, October 1, 2012

Baby New Zealand Bunnies

Exciting times at Poppin' Fresh! In the last week we've watched our seven new rabbits grow from wiggly pink creatures to tiny, white-furred "awww" inspiring rabbits.

A flower by the Rabbitry, which bloomed the same day the rabbits were born.

The Hoppin' Fresh sign, part of a drawer from Sean's retrofitted desk hutches.
Mother Rabbit
Seven tiny baby rabbits. You could fit two or three in one hand.
Rabbit Close-up
 The rabbits are about a week old, and are growing fast! In the next few days their eyes will open. They'll continue to live in the next box for now, but soon they'll learn to escape their baby rabbit crib. They'll stay in an extra-large hutch with their mother for quite some time, and will eventually move into their own cages.

Sean's latest construction project is this massive hutch! Soon, I'll share a the finished hutch, complete with shingles.