My niece, Hannah, recently went to Bali, and because she loves me and knows I love coffee, she brought me back a bag of Kopi Luwak. Luwak is what the Indonesians call the wild cat that we refer to as a civet. As it turns out, civets like to eat coffee berries, and after they eat them, they poop them out. The civets only digest the fruit part of the coffee and the bean passes through intact. Indonesian coffee farmers collect the civet coffee-laden turds, put them through six different washings, roast, and package them to sell as some of the most expensive coffee you can buy. The most expensive, fyi, is the coffee pooped out by elephants.
So what does it taste like? It’s fruity, a little sweet, there is nothing that brings to mind it’s origins, but it is odd. The flavor is remarkably consistent. It’s not at all bitter and the initial flavor is exactly the same through to the end, no aftertaste, but also no other notes. It’s one consistent fruity flavor all the way through to the finish. What kind of fruit? I don’t know. Citrusy maybe, but not any kind of citrus I can identify. I thought it was good if a little dull. The wasn’t a lot of complexity to the flavor. It wasn’t good enough for me to pay $12 or more an ounce for it, but if your niece goes to Indonesia, maybe you’ll luck out and she’ll bring you some.
You might not think a book about the potato would be that interesting, but this was a really good read. The potato has had a tremendous impact on every country it’s been introduced to. John Reader goes through the entire history of the potato and it’s journey across the planet. He spends a significant amount of time on the Irish Potato famine, and the late blight, which was its cause. Late blight is still the most significant problem with raising potatoes and Reader addresses the various methods for dealing with blight, including genetic manipulation and spraying copper based fungicides. Because the potato is relatively easy to grow in a variety of soils and climates and is a complete food when you pair it with a little fat, it has tremendous value as a food source. It also has a fascinating history, well worth the read.
Whisper to The Blood is a direct sequel to A Deeper Sleep, which I reviewed here. This is a very interesting book in that it explores all the complexities of living in such a rural community so far from any direct outside influence. One of the things I like about Dana Stabenow’s books is that all of them can be read individually and understood, but they are very much enriched by reading them in order. In this novel, Kate becomes temporary head of the Native Association that runs The Park. While Jim struggles with the fallout from Louis Deems death, a new mining company is wooing the park rats in order to start a massive new open pit mine in the far reaches of The Park. When a man from Johnny’s past appears in The Park, the bodies start to pile up and it’s up to Jim and Kate to figure out what’s going on.
The first and only time I ever saw Hoarders on TV, I was at the beach with my husband and some friends. After the show, I went downstairs to our room and began cleaning. My husband, who was reading in bed, asked what I was doing. I told him what I’d seen and that I needed to clean the room. My husband is a firefighter so he is very familiar with hoarder houses. “But we’re at the beach,” he said. “We hardly have any stuff here.” That didn’t matter to me. I cleaned the room anyway, hanging all the clothes, emptying the bathroom trash. I even did a load of laundry. When Kimberly Rae Miller’s book popped up on BookBub yesterday I almost didn’t get it, but then I opted for the look inside option and I’m glad I did. I bought the book and read the whole thing yesterday. It’s different from what I expected. Despite all the difficulties of living with her parents’ hoarding and growing up in that kind of atmosphere, Miller loves her parents. In many ways, they were great parents and in many ways they were horrifying. This book does a good job of opening a window on that dichotomy. It’s an incredibly quick read and I’m glad I finished it, because frankly parts of it are difficult to get through. It’s enlightening though and worth the read, especially if you know of anyone in that situation and have not been able to fathom how they got there and why they haven’t fixed it.
One of the things I love about Dana Stabenow’s Kate Shugak series is the ambiguity some of the characters occasionally feel about their jobs. In A Deeper Sleep, this ambiguity is on full display and Stabenow is at her best writing about the murder of a known bad guy and how the community as well ask Kate and Trooper Jim Chopin react. This is so well done and Bernadette Dunne reads it so compellingly that I listened to the whole thing in just a couple of days. I had the book on Overdrive on my phone while I ran errands and did chores around the house. Such a good book. If you haven’t ever read this series, I highly recommend you give it a try.
I really enjoy reading James Rollins’ Sigma series, so I thought I’d give this a try. It’s tangential to Sigma, but Wayne is an independent contractor rather than a team member. I liked this book for many of the same reasons I like the Sigma series. Rollins likes to tie his books to actual historical places and events and real science and then he spins a fantastic, action-filled yarn around them. He does that here, but since there isn’t a team involved, I found Wayne getting too battered around for just one guy to reasonably deal with, also I really worried about the dog. I know that’s dumb, since the whole point of the series is Wayne and his dog, but still, I worried. Other than those issues, I enjoyed this book. Scott Aiello did a great job with his performance and it was easy to listen to him for long stretches in the car or just walking around the house doing chores. It’s fast-paced, the locales are great, and because I had just read Churchill’s book on his early life, the references to the Boer War were really interesting. Action fans should check it out.
Our house was built in 1941. In 1941, as you may know, the United States entered World War II, so homes built during the war years have galvanized pipes instead of copper, because all the copper went to the war effort. Fast forward 76 years and all that galvanized pipe is rusting from the inside out. Gross, but hey, none of us are iron deficient.
Yesterday, our friend, Phil, and our nephew, Spencer, began phase one by replacing the pipe that goes from the main into the house. They dug a ditch, pulled out the old pipe, and put in a new pipe. Today it passed inspection and they are filling in the hole.
Phase two hopefully begins in June, when the downstairs bathroom will be removed, all the remaining galvanized in the house will be replaced, and then the bathroom will be rebuilt. Fun!