The Heart & Soul of Sex, Mushrooms saving the World, and a Woman’s Guide to Owning a Home

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    The Heart and Soul of Sex: Making the ISIS Connection, by Gina Ogden, Ph. D. (Trumpeter Books, Boston, MA, 2006), $22.95

    For every woman who has ever wondered, "Isn’t there more to sex than this?" Gina Ogden, Ph.D., answers a resounding "Yes!" through the results of her acclaimed national women’s sexuality survey, ISIS (Integrating Sexuality and Spirituality). Of respondents, 78 percent say that sex is much more than intercourse; it involves body, mind, heart and soul. A far cry from the images in movies and men’s concerns with genitals and performance, the women in this survey speak about emotions and meaning. They explain why "Tonight, I’ll do the dishes," are the sexiest words they can hear from their partners (hint: it has to do with empathy and intimacy). While embodying the emotions, and certainly not negating the physical, ISIS women report that it is the interplay of the physical, emotional, spiritual and mental that leads them to their center and beyond: to the multidimensionality of sexual experience. A 58-year-old speech pathologist reports one of her experiences saying, "Time stood still and our bodies blended together into a perfect flow." Others speak of exploding into a million fragments, hearing the voice of God, and seeing their partners become pure light. Blowing the top off what is considered "normal" sexual response, ISIS women let you know that you are not alone in your desires and experiences. How women create these experiences vary, but The Heart and Soul of Sex proves that every women is capable of getting there, and offers specific suggestions and exercises based on the adventures of women across the nation to help you become an ISIS woman.

    Mycelium Running: How Mushrooms Can Help Save the World, by Paul Stamets (Ten Speed Press, Berkeley, CA, 2005), $35

    In direct opposition to the 1950s slogan "better living through chemistry," Paul Stamets advocates saving the planet with mushrooms! Fruiting as mushrooms, single-celled mycelium form an underground fungal network covering the world. Peer under any log and you will see their cobweb like growth. Functioning as the planets’ recyclers, they unlock the nutrients in dead plants and organisms, while supporting living plants by enveloping their roots and extending their ability to absorb water and nutrients. These amazing fungi can be used for filtration, restoration, remediation and pesticides. They even denature toxic waste through the process of breaking down long-chained toxins into simpler, less-toxic chemicals. You may ask: Why, if fungi are so miraculous, are they not more widely used? The problem lies in their efficiency. While breaking down the targeted toxin (e.g. diesel), they also denature other toxins in the process, which often violates legal patents. Laws stand in the way of several uses of fungi, like harnessing "magic" mushrooms to combat nerve gas. Reducing malaria in swamps, controlling insect pests, stopping erosion, preventing forest fires through moisture retention, and even helping the landscape recover from residential building scar, Stamets proves the fungi both helpful and versatile. In case this is all too "out there" or scientific for you, half the text is dedicated to cultivating mushrooms for culinary, medicinal and ecological purposes, and even reveals how to grow truffles in the U.S. – an opportunity for your taste buds and your wallet! Informative and inspiring, Mycelium Running contains numerous pictures of mushrooms and their happy, smiling, human friends (including Dr. Andrew Weil) who lovingly utilize mushrooms to counteract our planetary destruction.

    The Savvy Woman’s Guide to Owning A Home: How to Care for, Improve and Maintain Your Home, by Kitty Werner (PRBPress, Waitsfield, VT, 2002) $14.95

    When the loyal toaster oven goes to flames over your Saturday morning bagel, you will be grateful for the fire extinguisher just arms reach away, as Kitty Werner suggested. Owning and maintaining your own home need not be full of mystery and emergencies. Werner prepares you for everything from moving in (Did you tell the DMV of your new address and remember to register the dog?) to eliminating the creepy crawlies and reading your circuit breaker box for danger signs. For those who know little or nothing about construction, Werner discusses the proper placement of smoke detectors, making sure the electrical outlets in the wet areas of your home (kitchen and bath) are Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter receptacles, as well as the basic tools to keep on hand (hammer, hacksaw, adjustable wrench and of course: duct tape). She demystifies home insurance options and teaches the basics of septic systems, including how they work, how to locate them, how often it needs to be pumped, and how a leach field works. Recommending a yearly home checkup, including touring the crawl space and checking the chimney flashing, in addition to the seasonal maintenance of cleaning the gutters, and long-term planning for the big ticket items, such as roofs, furnaces and appliances, Werner empowers you to care for your biggest investment. Whether you are comfortable with a power drill, or more comfortable hiring someone with a power drill, this guide will help you know when you can do it yourself, and when you need to call in the professionals.

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