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Animals are very smart!

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Even insects. There is no denying it.

Found this interesting article on bumblebees that use nicotine to self medicate here 

bee

So far, the majority of evidence for animals self-medicating—either by ingesting or applying substances with medicinal properties to treat or prevent disease—has been documented in vertebrates, and more specifically chimpanzees (Pan troglodytes). But there is a growing body of evidence that a wider and wider range of animals seek out plants and other substances specifically for their healing properties.

Known as zoopharmacognosy (literally “animal-drug-knowing”), the most common examples involve parrots eating clay to absorb toxins in the gut or dogs eating grass to make themselves sick. North American brown bears (Ursos arctos) are also known to make a paste of osha roots and saliva to rub through their fur to repel insects in a similar way to how many species of birds wipe ants through their feathers to rid themselves of lice. But evidence of self-medicating in insects has until recently remained scant.

Recent research has shown that certain species of bumblebee might seek out nectar high in alkaloids—such as nicotine—when infected with a gut parasite. The alkaloids were shown to reduce the number of parasites after the bees had had their tipple of nectar.

charlie6

Now what Charlie is looking for I suppose is ….. probably a rat? He and Bully sometimes catch a rat when it comes over  from the veld. They bring it to me (Ugh!) and then I buy it off them with a treat. I do not want them to eat rats see.

But Oh Dear for the plants.

from the veld. They bring it to me (Ugh!) and then I buy it off them with a treat. I do not want them to eat rats see.

Something to read

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Once I have read an exceptional good book, I find it hard to find something to read again, And this year I have been enjoying some of the best sellers _ New York Times bestsellers.

First of course Dead Wake by Erik Larson, the extremely well researched history of the sinking of the Lusitania. But I have written about this in a previous blog and ARK has also concurred with me – this is a brilliant book, not to be missed.

dead wake

Then I picked up The Girl on the Train, quite an unusual murder mystery. Although this book will not win the Pulitzer Prize for literature it is still an engaging story. A fun-read. ‘ Like its train, the story blasts through the stagnation of these lives in suburban London and the reader cannot help but turn pages.”—The Boston Globe

Alfred Hitchcock may have said all there is to say about the fallibility of making assumptions about what you see through a window, but, like most important lessons, this one can bear some repeating. To the limited scope of a window frame, the former London journalist Paula Hawkins, in her debut thriller, “The Girl on the Train,” offers a few additional obfuscations. First, her novel’s protagonist, Rachel, looks out through the window of a moving train on her daily commute. Second, Rachel is your basic hot mess: depressed, unemployed, still in mourning for the death of her marriage and prone to alcoholic blackouts that coincide with critical moments in the tale of a missing woman later found dead. Rachel might as well be wearing a sign that reads “Unreliable Narrator.” New York Times review.

The girl on the train

The next book was Claire Fuller’s Our Endless Numbered Days – whosebewitching debut takes us from the cosy confines of a London home to the dark heart of the forest, following the breadcrumb trail of eight-year-old Peggy Hillcoat. […] Like all good fairy tales, this is a book filled with suspense and revelation, light and shadow and the overwhelming feeling that nothing is quite as it seems in the Hillcoats’ lives. It’s spellbinding, scary stuff.
The Sunday Express

Is it all possible? I had to think about it. Are the characters for real, even the imagined friends? Oh yes for sure. But if you could survive that long in the wilderness I doubt very much.

our endless numbered days

And then Hausfrau. Jill Alexander Essbaum’s debut novel, but remember that Essbaum is first and fore mostly a poet which explains the beautiful prose.

Hausfrau

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER  “Sexy and insightful, this gorgeously written novel opens a window into one woman’s desperate soul.”—People
There are echoes in Hausfrau of those other frustrated wives, Emma Bovary and Anna Karenina. Here, as in those novels, we expect tragedy at the turn of every page. 

So now I am reading for the second time ASA Harrison’s The Silent wife.

(I almost never read books twice so this should tell you something. The other book that I read twice was Julian Barnes A Sense of an Ending – superb.) “Harrison has spun a masterfully suspenseful tale in which the main plot point is given away from the beginning – no easy feat. It’s a story of the end of a marriage, the end of love and how long buried secrets can cast a long shadow.” – The Cleveland Plain Deale

Beautifully and superbly written. And had she lived I would imagine she would have gone on to   win many literary prizes.

None of these above should ever be compared with the third rate book (and very poor movie) Gone Girl. Please.

 I was never a fan of ‘Gone Girl’, and am glad I did not know that this novel, ‘The Silent Wife’ was being compared to ‘Gone Girl’. This is an entirely separate novel, connected only by the season, a summer novel/thriller. Amazon Review.

Here we call it autumn

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But it is actually fall.

Because although the nicest season of the year, it is a bit messy when the leaves start to fall and the grass is looking bleak. But the days are wonderful and sunny and Charlie Fox  is not yet ready for a coat. Not that I know if the coat will last. (Bully prefers the comfort of a chair.) And so on the doorstep of winter the color from the garden has gone and the changes to the trees are subtle. Nothing spectacular (yet). We are slowly getting ready.

Bully xxx

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Is the cat going up the stairs

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or down?

cat

Have you read…?

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dead wake

From the #1 New York Timesbestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania, published to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the disaster

On May 1, 1915, a luxury ocean liner as richly appointed as an English country house sailed out of New York, bound for Liverpool, carrying a record number of children and infants. The passengers were anxious. Germany had declared the seas around Britain to be a war zone, and for months, its U-boats had brought terror to the North Atlantic. But the Lusitania was one of the era’s great transatlantic “Greyhounds” and her captain, William Thomas Turner, placed tremendous faith in the gentlemanly strictures of warfare that for a century had kept civilian ships safe from attack. He knew, moreover, that his ship–the fastest then in service–could outrun any threat.

Germany, however, was determined to change the rules of the game.

A really great book that sheds light on the USA entering the First World War and the sinking of the Lusitania is written by Erik Larson in Dead Wake.  This is a great read. You get to travel with the passengers on the Lusitania in 1915. It sheds light on how the Germans did not care if they sunk passenger liners with women and children, whether there was indeed ammunition on the Lusitania as claimed, and the clever code breaking done in secret. Also about Woodrow Wilson’s romance!

And a funny true little story –when the war broke out in 1904…

In Paris, the big fascination was the trial of Henriette Caillaux, wife of former prime minister Joseph Caillaux, arrested for killing the editor of the Paris newspaper LeFigaro after the newspaper had published an intimate letter that the prime minister had written to her before their marriage, when they were having an adulterous affair.

 

Enraged, Mrs. Caillaux bought a gun, practiced with it at the gunsmith’s shop, then went to the editor’s office and fired six times. In her testimony, offering an unintended metaphor for what was soon to befall Europe, she said, “These pistols are terrible things. They go off by themselves.” She was acquitted, after persuading the court that the murder was a crime of passion.