Archive for ◊ March, 2008 ◊

29 Mar 2008 The Book of Lost Things-John Connolly
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First off, let me say that this book is RIGHT up my alley.  I love the inclusion of Fairy Tales into books, but finding ones that aren’t too over the top as fantasies can be difficult.  This book fit the bill.

Before World War II, in London, David’s mother dies slowly and awfully (I”m guessing cancer.)  In time, his father remarries and they have a baby son, Georgie, who David resents deeply.  They move into David’s stepmother’s rambling old family home (evil stepmother?  Not really, but….) and David feels sad, overwhelmed and neglected and worst still he feels as though his father has replaces his mother with his new wife and new baby.

The tension between David and Rose (har har right?  More fairy tale allusions) reach a breaking point and the book loving David is sent to his room to consider his roll in the fight with Rose earlier in the day.

And, I should mention that David has begun having blackouts and his books have started talking to him.  Not exactly normal. 

One night, David can bare no more and when a German bomber crashes into his back yard, David crawls into a hole in the retaining wall of a sunken garden following the pleas of his mother’s voice and finds himself in an alternate universe where he is being hunted by more than one creature.  The Crooked Man and the man like wolves who are amassing their own army against the aging King.

The Woodcutter David meets upon entering the world remarks that the King has a magical book that could be used to get David out of that world and into his, but the wolves are fast on David’s tail and they must hurry.  David makes his way through this world straight out of a volume of fairy tales.  He meets the trolls under the bridge, hears the legend of Red Riding Hood (and her part in the creation of the Man Wolves who are now hunting him).  He encounters Sleeping Beauty who lures him into her briar filled castle with his mother’s voice and, in the end, realizes that his bitterness and anger will stand to cause him harm and David chooses to become an honorable man.

The author, John Connolly, is known for writing mysteries, but I’m not sure that I’ll be reading any as I don’t really care for mysteries that much, but this book is very much what I’ve been hoping for when reading similar things like those written by Gregory Maguire (see Wicked).  I highly recommend it and it may be my favorite book of the year. :O)

07 Mar 2008 OMFG. Flu sux
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It’s Friday
I’ve had the flu since Monday.
I had a foot long q-tip shoved up my nose on Wednesday that apparently quickly and impressively turned a positive color.  I was given three perscripitions that I chose not to fill and take because it would mean cutting Cadence off of her nana and I was worried that if she too got the flu she would need her nana to make sure she was getting fluids and nutrition.

And I was RIGHT!  Cadence started feeling funky yesterday and moped and napped all day.  Today she was cranky, but tonight seemed to be feeling much better, though my concerns did come to pass and the only thing Cadence ate until dinner time was 1/4 of a bagel, 1/8th stick of string cheese, 1 macaroni noodle and nana. 

I’m feeling partially better.  No raging fever tonight and my hacking cough is less, well, hacking?  And less frequent, but I have a monster of a stiff neck that, if this was yesterday or Wednesday, I’d be running around here screaming about having meningitis.   Emily who was feeling better yesterday has deteriorated today and is running a fever again, so who knows and now Eric has the shivers under the warm blanket from the couch.

We’re thinking I’m feeling better, but the truth is, I’m just ready for bed.

04 Mar 2008 Modern Medicine Thou Hast Failed Me
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It started simply.  Yesterday morning I woke up with a cough.  Just a cough. I had a full day and we had cleaned in our bedroom Sunday night and I though the dust we stirred up (which was substantial, I’m sorry to say) had aggravated my allergies.  I complained to Eric about how cleaning never comes to any good and went on with my day. 

Yeah, I had a cough, but I felt it was just allergy related until in the afternoon when I carried Cadence up to bed and my joints were stiff.

Shit.

Flu.

I refused that diagnosis.  Chatted for a while with Eric and began to notice that I was feeling feverish. Burning eyes and body chills.  Not the flu.  Not the flu.

Eric gets home from school with Emily.  I check my temperature and find that, yes, I do have a fever. I go to bed.  Emily is now complaining of chills and such, but she has no fever and both Eric and I think that she’s sad about her lack of personal attention.  Meanwhile, I’m in agony.  If I don’t cough, my chest and back ache, if I do cough my head pounds.  I doze on and off in a fever induced stupor and at 7pm my fever is up to 101.5. Yikes!  I take a shower and some motrin and settle in for the night.

Emily wakes up in the morning with a fever in excess of 102.  So, I guess maybe she wasn’t trying to eek out some extra personal attention.  I had a fever in excess of 102, too, so we were a matched pair.  My best deduction with the fever and aches and chills is the flu, but here’s the kicker, Emily got a flu shot!

Now, I obviously understand that flu shot isn’t fool proof.  Our best hope is that we’ve reduced Emily’s odds of contracting certain strains of the flu, but here she is, every bit as sick as flu shotless me and she also had to suffer the unhappiness of getting jabbed by a needle in hopes of preventing exactly this.  But, she’s got it as sure as I do and this afternoon her temperature rose to 103, meaning she wins the award.  Mine seems to be tapering off after a bit of the sweats this afternoon and I just noticed that Emily is living outside of her covers indicating a round of the sweats might be coming to her as well.

Not to get too deep, but the ineffectiveness of vacation is one issue at the head of the vaccinating vs non-vaccinating debate.   Chicken pox, for instnace, used to be a mild childhood disease, categorized by a fever for a day or two and some itchy scabs for another few days. I had the children pox myself in 1983 (followed by a case of pink eye which was frankly far more irritating than the chicken pox were).  My brother and sister got the chicken pox as well (Jake after me in 1983 and Jolene in 1993 though hers were compounded with a staph infection which is a whole ‘nother can of worms….or pox).  The current chicken pox vaccination doesn’t actually STOP you from getting the disease.  It reduces your CHANCES of getting the disease and looks to make the disease MILDER if you DO get it.  There are also arguements that those of us with immunity because of having the disease may now be more at risk for shingles because of no longer being exposed to the disease to keep our immunity current.

That’s a big digression and the debates about the effectiveness or reasons for vaccinations rage over the internet.  Just google it.   You won’t be disappointed and even on mild mannered, unrelated Internet community the announcement of ones personal policy towards or against vaccination can cause pages of debate and bad feelings.

So, taking all of that and Emily’s flu, would I vaccinate her (and me) against the flu next year?  I’m thinking yes, but I can see how this experience could turn people away from regular injections to try and keep the flu at bay.  In the past eight years no one in our house has gotten the flu vaccine and no one has had the flu.  This year, not only do we have the flu, but the one person who received the vax has the flu herself.

01 Mar 2008 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time-Mark Haddon
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This book was my pick for my Mom’s group book club (btw-if you haven’t checked out meetup.com for groups that share your interest in your area you should.  It’s a great resource and I’m so happy to have met so many good people and my girls are making friends too :o))

Anyhow, this book came well recommended for book groups and the premise interested me greatly.  All in all I really loved the book.  It was great and I knew when I picked it up and read a few pages that chances were pretty good that I was going to love it.  It was written in journal form, with little illustrations here and there. I don’t NEED pictures in my books, but after so many years of reading books without them (well, grown up books without them) findiong a good book with them seems like a little bit of a present.

Anyhow, Christopher Boone is a fifteen year old Autstic boy living in England.  One day, he happens past his neighbor’s house and find her standard poodle, Wellington, dead.  The dog has been stabbed by a garden fork.  Christopher, who has trouble connecting with people, enjoys connecting with dogs and feels horribley sad about Wellington. He picks him up in a hug (something he decidedly does NOT do with humans) and is caught by the dog’s owner, Mrs. Shearer.  She screams at him and calls the police.  In Christopher’s confusion, eh lases out at a police man who is touching him and hits him and is carted off to jail.

Overall, Christopher doesn’t mind the cell.  It’s quiet and small and he can do the math and find out the size of the room and the number of blocks it takes to make the cell up.   Christopher, in fact, spends a great deal of time fantasizing about being alone; in space, under water and the survivor of a disease where everyone but the “different’ people like him die off leaving him alone to wander in silence as he will.

Christopher decides that he’s going to solve Wellington’s murder as a part of a writing/journaling assignment given to him and he sets on trying to find out who killed the dog.  His Father gets angry and instructs Christopher to stop investigating Wellington’s murder and Christopher uses his superior deductive reasoning to probe people for information without expressly breaking his promises, but Christopher uncovers more than he or his Father could have intended and things get difficult for Christopher.

Of course, I won’t spoil the book.  You’ll have to read to find out what happens to Christopher.

I found the book fascinating.  Mark Haddon worked closely with children with autism for years before writing novels and he has a great depth of understanding of their detachment and quirks (IMO, of course).  Christopher is believable as a character with a disability.  He has a vast array of things he either likes (red food) or avoids (yellow things and brown things) and is a mathematical genius, but can’t tell jokes or read facial expressions beyond smiles and frowns. 

Awesome read. :o)