Feeling Bookish & the Senses Project: Killers of the Flower Moon

Tuesday Revews-Day

Not too long ago our local bookstore, The Bookshelf, hosted a Book Club Fair–an inspired way to connect readers with other readers and, specifically, book clubs in the area. I signed up for a few of them (whether I stick with all of them every month remains to be seen, but I’m giving them all a fair shot before I decide).

One club is one I’ve been meaning to get to for months, Stitches and Stories. It’s a joint effort with The Bookshelf and Fuzzy Goat and it’s such a low-key book club meets Knit Night that it’s just too awesome to pass up. They play the beginning of an audiobook (via Libro.fm, an audiobook distributor that allows a portion of your purchase to go to the independent book store of your choice) while you knit, crochet, etc. and then there’s a discussion of the story so far, whether people think they might read or listen to it on their own afterwards, etc. They also ask if anyone completed the previous month’s book, but it’s still super low pressure.

There are two more traditional book-clubs that I signed up for, as well (and a third that specializes in YA books but it’s on hiatus still), and they’re both reading the same book for March:

Killers of the Flower Moon: the Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
by David Grann

I’ve finished the book and, as the first of the two clubs meets tonight, I thought I’d share my own thoughts on the book, for good or ill, before meeting with the group(s). I’m also revisiting the Five Senses project I came up with a while back and maybe I’ll be able to keep that going since I’ll be reading more meaty books for the clubs 🙂

First impression: The title filled me with a tiny bit of dread that the book would be heavy and depressing. I mean, yes, I read a lot of murder mysteries and frequently go through WWII-era kicks, not exactly laugh-a-minute stuff, there. But there’s something about the prospect of reading about the many and varied ways our forefathers attempted to eradicate yet another indigenous people was not a thrilling one. Murder mysteries (and even WWII narratives) have a common thread of justice being served, the bad guys caught/punished, etc. Would the same truly be the case in this book, I wondered?

Yes and no. Without going into too much detail, it wasn’t the genocide that I’d feared from my first impression, but it was pretty heavy. I knew pretty much nothing about the Osage Nation before reading this book and, as a white, middle class woman I’m struck by the guilt of privilege reading how depraved the men and women of that time and place were to go to such levels (poisoning, execution, or even the systematic disenfranchisement that went on) to strip them of their mineral rights, the one “consolation”–if you can even look at it that way–of being forcibly uprooted and relocated as so many other tribes were before being winnowed out.

And while some were caught and prosecuted, the author (a reporter) goes into the murders that were not solved (often covered up by those in power at the time, if they were even reported) and develops a theory as to which parties might have also taken part in the events that all come down to one thing: greed.

So, yeah, that was a fun read…. not. But there’s always something to be gleaned, and this is where the Five Senses project comes in.


One of the first connections I made while reading Killers of the Flower Moon has little to do with the Osage and more to do with the Cherokee, namely the Land Run of 1823, which took place after the lands the Cherokee had settled on went through the process of allotment: the government parcels out the land to each tribe member in 160-acre parcels and the unassigned lands were (simplifying the process here) opened to settlers to claim. A similar thing was proposed to the Osage but they, fortunately, had better representation and the territory was divided equally among the Osage and there was a provision about while the land could be sold, the mineral rights could only be acquired through inheritance.

At any rate, the land run made me think of the movie Far and Away (Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, 1992) where a similar land run is featured at the end (the movie is 26 years old, I think we can dispense with the spoiler warning). I wondered it if was, by chance, the same one and yes, it indeed was. Of course no mention is made about how the land came to be available, so watch it with a fresh perspective if it’s been a while since you last saw it.

Another option is The FBI Story (Jimmy Stewart, 1959). This one I haven’t seen but was mentioned in the book as it was a bit of a puff piece and love letter to J Edgar Hoover, it does at least mention the Osage murders as it was this investigation that helped solidify support of a federal branch of law enforcement.

Finally, in the latter part of the book an Osage ballet is mentioned–Wahzhazhe–and it’s actually available to watch online through the Osage Ballet website.


Cherokee by Europe–no, sorry, that’s a poor attempt at a touch of levity for a book that really had so few (if any?!) light moments.

On a more serious note, if you’re at all interested in learning to pronounce the Osage names correctly, I’ve found an Osage Pronunciation Guide that may be of some help in the front.

Also, any oral history projects out there–Osage or otherwise–would be an illuminating listen if you can find them.


Find either a class or online project sheet to create something in the Native American style. Be it weaving, leatherwork, pottery, or basket-weaving, there are plenty of options out there.

Case in point, and a bit of coincidence or serendipity at play, my local History Center is hosting a Cherokee Double-Bottom Basket workshop in a couple of weeks and I’d signed up for it before I even started reading this month’s book. I’m quite looking forward to it!


Like a lot of Americans, I have a sliver of Native American ancestry a few generations back. I don’t know which tribe she was a part of, but my great-great-great (I think that’s right) grandmother on my mom’s side was named Lottie Youngblood, for whatever that’s worth. The only shred of relevance that has, here, is that growing up, we’d go home to visit family, and PawPaw would make us Fried Bread at least once a visit as a treat.

I’m fairly certain that his Fried Bread (a sort of biscuit dough fried in hot grease) is actually a take on Fry Bread, for which there are plenty of recipes online.


This one is tough because smells didn’t figure heavily in the story. So for smell I’m going to suggest using bundled sage as incense or to smudge your home. You can find sage bundles in crystal or New Age shops, some natural health care sorts of shops, and (of course) online. One of my local shops, Smith Collective, offers smudge bundles online.

A Confession

Third Time Wife, Wedding Planning
German wooden wedding figurines

image via stock.xchng | Photo by knubie

I didn’t want to be a Third-Time Bride.

Hell, I didn’t really want to be a second-time bride, for that matter!

When I, at the oh-so-wise age of 19, decided to marry my college boyfriend I thought that was going to be it. That he was The One and that we would be together forever.

Yeah, you can probably guess how that worked out.

The second time around, at world-weary 26 and after a couple proposals that never made it to the altar, I figured I knew what I’d done wrong the first time (it takes two to tango–and to screw up a marriage) and that I would be better this time around. I was marrying a mature man and we would happily grow old together.

Again, three guesses how that worked out (and the first two don’t count).

Now, of course, these are marriages that fell apart, not weddings, but all marriages start with a wedding of some sort.

The “third times the charm” saying taunted me. No pressure, right? If I go for number 3 and it fails… Well, then, that would just be too devastating to my ego. Prove I’m a total “failure” at being a woman. Not to mention look really bad if I ever hoped to date again–3 strikes, she’s out and all that. (And I admit, while I was totally okay being on my own, I prefer to be in a relationship of some sort rather than not.)

So a third trip down the aisle was not what I saw for myself.

And then I met Mr Road Trip.

He knew I didn’t want to get married again–he’s been divorced, himself, so wasn’t in any hurry one way or the other–but we started dating. Then we moved in together. Then, suddenly, I’d been with him longer (and happier) than I’d been with either of my previous husbands.

And I started to think: so this is what a successful relationship is like.

And think some more: well, now, hold up a minute. I’m happier with Mr Road Trip than any other man I’ve met, dated or married. Our relationship is different than any other I’ve been in or seen. What makes me think that, say, marriage to him would be the same as marriage to my exes?

Oh, there were still plenty of objections and obstacles to consider but that ‘what if?’ It opened a door.

If you were married before, were you reluctant to take the marital plunge again?
Or did you just know you would, regardless of what happened in the past?

Fighting the Tropics


While I’m still slaving away on the cookbook, I’ve got the pleasure of bringing you a bit of alcohol history and a fabulous new reference by way of this guest post from my new friend, Woody Robinson. I mean really, how could I say no to a post about one of my favorite spirits?!


Last weekend I asked for a Gin and Tonic from a weathered bartender at a local pub. A simple request you may think. However, upon delivering my drink, the bartender barked in a raspy voice, “Fighting off the tropics eh?” While some may have ignored this odd comment, I decided to dig a bit deeper. I found out that Gin was mixed with quinine (an anti-malarial compound) and carbonated water during the 17th century in tropical British Colonies. Thus the Gin and Tonic was born!

While simply drinking is great fun, understanding the alcohol we consume makes the experience far more interesting and rewarding. For example, say you’re drinking some gin after a long day of work. Did you know that English soldiers were drinking the same thing while fighting Spanish troops in the Eighty Year War?

Unfortunately, finding a gin that caters to your specific tastes is often a difficult task. From traditional to modern blends with a broad spectrum of flavors, it’s easy to get lost at your local liquor store.

However, alcohol references can make finding your ‘gin of choice’ a snap. For example, FindTheBest teamed up with several gin directories to create a convenient database of the worlds greatest gins. With nearly 200 brands and useful filters to narrow your results, comparing gins has never been easier.

Learning the history of you favorite alcohol is an enlightening and satisfying process. While Gin and Tonics probably aren’t currently recommended by the FDA as an anti-malaria medication, they sure make for a good time after work!


Woody Robinson is a recent graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara, and is now a gin enthusiast working at FindTheBest and FindTheData. FindTheBest is an objective, socially curated comparison engine that allows you to find a topic, compare your options and decide what’s best for you.