Thoughts on “The Only Woman in the Room,” by Marie Benedict

Photo from website

Hedy Lamarr.

The name conjures up a sultry Hollywood star from a time when movie actors and actresses (an acceptable term back then) and their lives seemed as unreal as the films they made.

Few people know Hedy (real name Hedwig Kiesler) was woman who fled nazism and an abusive, powerful, arms-dealing husband to come to America.

That she, along with composer George Antheil, invented a radio guidance system for torpedoes that used frequency-hopping to avoid jamming by enemy powers.

Or that the same technology they developed is an integral part of a device most of us use every day.

I know these things because I was fortunate to receive an ARE (advanced reader’s edition) of Marie Benedict’s The Only Woman in the Room from Sourcebooks. (And thank you, Sourcebooks, for that!)

You may recognize Benedict as the author of The Other Einstein and Carnegie’s Maid. If you don’t, the titles alone should clue you into the fact that this is an author whose historical fiction hones in on the little-known stories of the past.

Women’s history, to be precise.

I enjoy Benedict’s books because they aren’t doorstop-sized tomes, but enjoyable, quick reads that nonetheless manage to teach me something.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against doorstop-sized tomes, but they are an investment of time and energy, and quite frankly, sometimes I don’t have enough of either.

Also, don’t make the mistake of thinking Benedict’s writing isn’t well-researched because it’s accessible. In fact, it’s the opposite. By coming to know her subjects so well, she makes them easily understood by others.

So, if you’re looking for good historical fiction about the unsung women of history, pick up a one of Marie Benedict’s books.

The Only Woman in the Room is freshly published and should be available at your local library or bookstore.


And now, a brief update on our bees and crazy Ohio weather.

Yes, this is the same backyard and hive that was 50 something Fahrenheit and busy with bees only yesterday. And the “less than one inch” of snow that was predicted has somehow become 3″ on our deck railing.

New Year Update: The Bees

Since I became a beekeeper, many people have asked about what we do with the bees in winter, often mistakenly saying, “They hibernate, don’t they?”

As you can see from the above video (taken today when the temperatures were in the 50s), this isn’t true.

Bees remain active in the winter, forming a “bee ball” to keep warm when the temperature drops. When it’s warm, they take the opportunity for cleansing flights. (You can read more about this in my earlier post:

The bee ball is continually in motion as bees from the cold, outer edges are replaced by bees from the warm center, thus keeping all (or at least most) of the bees warm enough to survive.

However, if a hive is too small, there may not be enough bees to keep the temperature high enough for survival, and the bees will freeze to death.

Starvation is another danger, caused by the bees not producing or storing enough honey for winter, having a greedy beekeeper take too much honey, or because the bee ball is too far from the honey to be able to reach it.

Winter is always worrisome for beekeepers, but for now, both our hives appear alive and well.

Did you notice Buzzers’ Roost bees seem to prefer the top exit, while FreeBees like the bottom? Why? My guess is it reflects where most of the bees are in the hive, which likely means that’s where the bulk of their honey is.

How do they decide where to store their honey? No one knows but the bees, and they aren’t talking. Folk wisdom says bees tend to start lower in the hive and move up, but we all know bees don’t always follow the rules.

For more information, check out this post from “Keeping Backyard Bees”:

New Year Update

After six weeks, two runs of antibiotics (along with two other prescriptions), and innumerable over-the-counter remedies, I finally feel like myself.

My daily chores, including helping Mom, no longer feel like insurmountable tasks.

And despite a somewhat bumpy holiday season, Mom’s also making progress. Not quite her previous independent self, but moving in that direction.

Christmas was low-key and lovely, thanks in part to Darling Daughter being home with her boyfriend (BF), though I must admit a (small) part of the wonderfulness can be attributed to the fact that they willingly(?) took on dish duty.

And everyone (including DD, BF, and The Engineer) was assigned a part of Christmas meals. Mom was not assigned a part, although she gamely offered to help.

The assignments were as follows:

Dutch Babies (not the diaper-wearing kind, see here for a recipe), scrambled eggs and toast, along with fresh blueberries, real maple syrup and butter, and Mimosas [Buck’s Fizz to my anglo-centric readers]): All cooking done by me. All cleanup by DD and BF.

Turkey, bread sauce, stuffing, Yorkshire Pudding – Me
Brussels sprouts and gravy made from the Bisto his sister sent (because he always says I make it too thick) – The Engineer
Carrots (because DD and BF do not like sprouts) – BF (grown by our CSA and done up deliciously with butter and honey)
Mashed Potatoes – Darling Daughter
All cleanup — DD and BF

Post-celebration snack during traditional family Scrabble game
Mixed cheese plate with crackers, honey, and home-made hot pepper jam (delicious, although I may have been the only one eating the jam) — Me

It was great.

Well, I thought it was.

I’m not sure what everyone else thought because by that point, I was falling back into Sinus Infection, stage 2.

I do know how Mom felt about it because at her appointment on the 26th, she basically told her orthopedic surgeon the holiday was “Meh.”

At the time, I nearly jumped out of my chair because I felt like I’d made such an effort, despite still feeling so crappy.

She’d shared a wonderful breakfast, lovely gifts, and a delicious dinner with her family. What more did she want?

When I asked myself that question, the answer came almost immediately. What Mom wants is to not be old, with a broken elbow, depending on everyone else for the smallest task.

Sadly, I can’t make that happen.

What I can do is help her while she needs it, and try to help her become as independent as possible, given her age and physical condition.

So, that’s what I’m doing.

Thankfully (as I said earlier) it no longer feels like an insurmountable task.