Saturday is National Honey Bee Awareness Day

My friend sent me this link about honey bees, that includes a checklist for getting started as a beekeeper, something that I'm interested in for several reasons: the way the bees will help my garden grow, to help the health of the bee population, interest in the fascinating lives of bees, and to collect my own honey and wax. There's something literary in this hobby as well, something rather poetic (see Sylvia Plath, William Shakespeare, William Butler Yeats, etc). Plus, it's not overly time-consuming, so I need not worry about traveling East for two weeks in the summer, etc.

I'm also using my interest in helping me plan my fall gardening, including planting some fall flowers (if I can find them) such as asters and foxglove and planting some bulbs for next spring. This will attract bees and aid in their dwindling population.

I'm also currently reading Plan Bee by Susan Brackney, an informative introduction for novices like me interested in beekeeping, chock full of information but written with a narrative, witty tone.


All the Shah's Men

All the Shah's Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror by Stephen Kinzer

The major premise of this modern history of Iran is that the 1953 coup orchestrated primarily by the C.I.A. that ousted Mohammad Mossadegh from power can be linked to the 911 terrorist attacks. Kinzer argues that the coup caused a chain reaction of events that wouldn't have taken place had President Eisenhower's administration taken the same attitude toward interference in developing country's progressive, nationalistic governments that President Truman took. During Truman's admin., the U.S. was a real friend to Iran, despising Britain's tyrannical, greedy control of their oil industry and appalled by the working and living conditions Iranian oil laborers were subjected to.

Mossadegh's mistake, according to Kinzer, was not recognizing that neutrality or apparent indifference to the spread of communism was considered, during Eisenhower's admin., to be synonymous with complicity. The U.S. saw Iran as a Soviet target as long as Mossadegh was in power.

Imperialistic and racist attitudes towards Iran on the part of Great Britain's Anglo-Iranian Oil Company and Winston Churchill's administration were the prelude to this act. The refusal to compromise on shared profits and working conditions created the great rift between Iran and the west, with Mossadegh leading the charge against western imperialism. Today, he is considered a symbol of freedom (although many, such as Islamic extremists, are threatened by this symbol).

The U.S. pulled the rug out from under Iran: it was the great betrayal. Prior to the coup, Iran considered the U.S. a great friend and ally, but since 1953, the animosity has only grown. The U.S. supported the Shah's tyrannical reign, and Iranians were outraged when President Carter gave him asylum after he was ousted in the 1979 revolution. The coup and the Shah's reign fed into extremist views; weakened Iran's moderate, nationalist party, the National Front; and helped pave the way for the take-over of Islamic extremists.

This is a fascinating account of a dangerous success that served as a precedent to the orchestration and planning of coups in Guatemala, Cuba, Chile, the Congo, and Vietnam, all of which caused countless deaths and great bitterness against the U.S.


The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

The Book of Laughter and Forgetting by Milan Kundera reminded me not only of why I loved Kundera's work prior to reading this but also of why I love to read. While I won't pretend to have understood much of this book and feel that it's definitely one to buy and re-read and savor, certain moments resound with poignant truth, such as the following:

" 'You begin to liquidate a people,' Hubl said, 'by taking away its memory. You destroy its books, its culture, its history. And then others write other books for it, give another culture to it, invent another history for it. Then the people slowly forget what it is and what it was. The world at large forgets it still faster.'
" 'And the language?'
" 'Why bother taking it away? It will become a mere folklore and sooner or later die a natural death.' " (218)

After reading this, my experience on the White Mountain Apache Reservation came to mind, and I thought about the history of the Native Americans since the arrival of European colonialists up through today.

Another passage that I loved: "Mirek rewrote history just like the Communist Party, like all political parties, like all peoples, like mankind. They shout that they want to shape a better future, but it's not true. The future is only an indifferent void no one cares about, but the past is filled with life, and its countenance is irritating, repellent, wouding, to the point that we want to destroy or repair it. We want to be masters of the future only for the power to change the past." (30-31)

How often do people change who they are in the hope to escape who they were? How often do we construct the future in order to erase or to emulate the past? This passage struck me with its truth on an individual level and on the level of new groups, cultures, governments tearing down statues, changing streets' names, burning books.

That's the forgetting. He writes about the exaggeration of forgetting, of the past being wiped away as if never existing, and he writes about the inability to forget, of being trapped, paralyzed in memory. And he writes beautifully about the laughter of angels and demons and how irreverent laughter can be, destroying moments meant to be sacrosanct. The humor of bodies, of love, of remembering, of living.

Mmmmm, yum. I want to add his work to my library.

Seeds for next year's garden

For next year:

Self-harvest poppy seeds (red, blue, pink)
self-harvested onions
unidentified small pinkish red flowers on tall green stalks that form small seed pods, easily harvested (I'm assuming they self re-seed easily)

Debating whether or not to sow the beet seeds, but packet says they do not fare well when sown after mid-July. So I'll probably hold off.