We can’t believe we are starting a 3rd iteration of the ABC Life already! So many things we would not have seen, done or learned about if it were not for the ABC Life. But we needed to loosen up some of our rules and add some categories, to be able to keep doing things we haven’t done before and still fitting them into the alphabet. So, for example, even though we have been to an ART gallery, if we go to one in a different city from the last time, we can count it in our A month. Or when reading a new book, the A can be the author name, the title, or the subject matter as in…..

New Book – Subject Matter – Apothecary

“The Lost Apothecary” by Sarah Penner

Barbara: This book fits into several of my favorite qualities of a book: it is compelling (I always wanted to read one more chapter), it was about a subject I new little of (apothecaries) and it alternated chapters by character’s voice.

Of course, I had to learn a little something about the history of the apothecary. According to Wikipedia, the profession of apothecary can be dated back at least to 2600 BC to ancient Babylon; clay tablets have been found with medical texts recording symptoms, prescriptions, and the directions for compounding. The apothecaries were chemists, mixing and selling their own medicines. They sold drugs from a fixed shopfront, catering to other medical practitioners, such as surgeons, but also to lay customers walking in from the street.

There were ongoing tensions between apothecaries and other medical professions. Often women (who were prohibited from entering medical school) became apothecaries which took away business from male physicians. In 1865 Elizabeth Garrett Anderson became the first woman to be licensed to practice medicine in Britain by passing the examination of the Society of Apothecaries. By the end of the 19th century, the medical professions had taken on their current institutional form, with defined roles for physicians and surgeons, and the role of the apothecary was more narrowly conceived, as that of pharmacist (or dispensing chemist in British English). However, in German-speaking countries, such as Germany, Austria and Switzerland, pharmacies or chemist stores are still called apothecaries.

In “The Lost Apothecary” a visitor to England finds an apothecary vial from the 1700s and it leads to unravelling of a mystery from that century. Not a heavy subject, but I don’t like reading only a constant stream of heavier books so I definitely recommend it.

Laura – New TV show – American Anthems

Grab some tissues and get ready to experience a rush of positive emotions. This new show on PBS, American Anthems, actually brought me joy! The program celebrates unsung heroes whose unselfish efforts help improve the lives of others. Each half-hour episode introduces a person who is making a definitive difference and has a country music star (Jennifer Nettles is in Episode 1) write and perform an uplifting, original song that honors these local heroes. The first episode is about a family man who came up with the idea of starting the organization “Stomp the Monster” while undergoing chemotherapy. The scene where he explains why he got the idea to start Stomp was perhaps the most moving moment of the episode for me. Highly recommend this show!

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