Swabbing the decks…

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Sorry that my posts haven’t been happening for a while. You know how blogging is – it waxes and wanes like life, and life became very busy there for a while. However, I think that we’re back on track now (or at least moving that way), and so I thought I’d take a second or two to catch things up with you on the old reading and other fronts.

Reading-wise: I have been reading, but it’s been slower than usual. I had some (more) facial nerve surgery the other day and that seems to have affected my vision, hearing, speech and facial muscles which was not expected and not supposed to happen at all. However, Mother Nature is a tough chick and I am an impatient patient so I’m hoping that things will slot themselves back into their normal places in one way or another very soon. In the meantime, it’s meant that I’ve been stymied with my usual lifestyle which has meant less reading and all that kind of thing. (Vision is important. :-))

It’s been an interesting experience that has affected everything else that I do, so it’s a bit of an adjustment for me (and we all know how flexible I can be with unpredictable and unexpected change). I think it will end up fine, but I’m just wanting it fine right now so it’s frustrating to have to wait and see. I may end up with a new normal of sorts, but it’s not something that we can predict with any certainty right now so it’s the waiting game for all involved. Grumble grumble grumble.

Happily, we had a lovely trip to Mexico sitting on the beach, reading and snoozing and messing around doing not much at all, and so that holiday (combined with the medical stuff) has slowed things down considerably. I did finish up an ILL on vacation which was good. (I have no idea why I thought it was a good idea to take someone else’s hard cover 500-page book with me on hols, but there you go.)

“It’s the patriotic duty of every woman to knit – not only for men in the service but for those at home as well….”

book375Called “No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting” by Anne L. Macdonald (1988), this was a fairly straight-forward recall of a somewhat rather specialized recounting of domestic history in the U.S. of, you’ve guessed it, knitting. I had read this a few years ago and had wanted to reread it and it arrived just in time for me to lug, I mean carry, across the many miles between here and Playa Mujeres.

It’s always a bit of a risk when you do a reread, isn’t it, and this gamble was not bad/not good. Just rather neutral and I think that’s part and parcel of reflecting how you change and evolve over the years and experiences. Last time I had read it, I was new to fiber art and to domestic history and so thought this was the complete Bee’s Knees.

This time, I didn’t think it was bad at all but it didn’t quite strike the tone of Happy that I was hoping for and I take complete responsibility for that interpretation. The book contents haven’t changed so it must have been me who has, and I think I’m just a more experienced reader in the world of social and domestic history. Plus – the world of knitting (rather specialized even on a good day) was not really jibing with the view of the tropical beach that was right in front of me. I have no idea why I didn’t put the huge brick down and pick up another title more appropriate to the time and place, but there you go. Who says that humans are logical and rational?

book374 (2)So, the read was fine – not bad at all, but perhaps not suited for the occasion. Additionally, I was petrified that the ILL volume would get damaged in some manner from either the beach or a drink mishap and so the whole thing was rather fraught. I’m glad that I’ve finished it, I’m glad that I read it, but I think that now I can safely cross this list off my TBR/Reread records for the rest of my days (or at least until I get senile in which case it might be a whole new read…)

And now I’m bobbing around thinking about what to read next. After such a mammoth (page length wise) read, I’m know that I’m going to choose a shorter read. My track history of reading and finishing Scary Big Books  has been littered with failure so at least it wasn’t that and honestly, it wasn’t that I didn’t enjoy the read or anything. I did. I think it was just a timing situation that fell afoul of things more so.

Taking a bigger picture look, I’m glad that I can still read and do fun things, and now, as I rub my hands with glee, I get to choose a whole other book for me to dive into. As a fellow book nerd, I think that you can probably relate to this squee experience and so I’m looking forward to trawling through my shelves and seeing what flings its little way into my hands. I honestly have no idea which title it will be so I’m rather excited at this prospect. I’ll let you know as I know it’s going to be hard for you to sleep and concentrate in your own lives until this decision has been sorted out. 🙂

book376I also happened to find a copy of the coffee book Brandon Stanton’s “Humans of New York” (here is its blog) and I stayed up rather late last night reading this. Humans can be so very interesting and I adored reading this book. 🙂

And had a quick read of Z. Z. Packer’s short story collection, “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere”, which I loved. Short story collections can be a patchy thing for me at times, but I enjoyed this whole collection so go Z. Z. and thanks for that.

You know another good thing? It’s been pouring with rain the last few days (a notable occasion in this semi-arid city) and so the garden is looking happy and green. It’s quite strange to me just how surprised I get each and every summer when the garden suddenly springs to life before the endless hot summer months arrive, and I love it. (Speaking of plants, we checked with a Plant Expert Friend of ours who recommended repotting the failing ficus tree. This has been done and now we wait to see if things improve. (Updates as warranted.)

I’m off to choose a book!

Catch-Up Time…

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And it’s time to catch you guys up a bit on the inner circle of life here at Just One More Page… (Can you stand the suspense? I thought you could.)

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So – my face pain has made its return back to chez moi. (See my earlier post about my trigeminal neuralgia journey here.)

START OF MEDICAL TALK HERE: (Just leap over this if it’s really boring. I won’t mind. I’m just trying to bring more awareness to this pretty rare medical situation, but I understand if you’d rather do something else than read about it. Just jump down a few parags and normal blogging will resume.)

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It seems that my Christmas brain surgery hasn’t really worked as my pain has returned. (It actually returned after about six weeks, so mid-February.) It’s a tad disappointing as that Microvascular Decompression (MVD) brain surgery usually has an 80% success rate.

(Excuse me a second or two whilst I use some creative language to express my feelings about this: *(^&^*))*%#@@^&*. This could go on for much longer, but I fear not everyone would appreciate that, and I think you probably may empathize with that frustration.)

But so, as this MVD didn’t seem to work, there are a few other options still to try and my surgeon’s willing to try, so at the end of the month, I’m having a Radio-Frequency Rhizotomy which is where you’re put under very fast anesthesia, the surgeon sticks a needle into the soft palate of your upper mouth (close to where the recalcitrant nerve is) and then wakes you briefly to see if they are hitting the right nerve in the right place, you say yay or nay, then the doc puts you back under into the world of anesthesia again, they do some electrical stimulation (I think) that damages the nerve and then you wake up all nice, happy and pain-free (I hope). That’s the plan for the end of the month, so I’m hoping that that works. If not, we’ll find another approach. Fingers crossed.

END OF MEDICAL TALK.

Onto happier things:

Spring-Break

It’s Spring Break on campus this week, which means that the campus is mostly empty (of both students and faculty) and so life is much calmer both in the office and outside. This has been fabbo great and I’m managing to get some work done on one or two of those “One Day…” projects. It’s really cool, actually.

Outside work, all is going smoothly as well. The weather is a bit bipolar at the moment: freezing temps when we wake up, and then 70’s when we leave the office at 5p so it’s sort of “ski-jackets and shorts” type of season. 🙂  Certainly no complaining from my camp though as just a month or two more, and it will be hot temps and they stay around for months (at least until Oct most years). I am really enjoying this shoulder season of medium temps!

Reading, naturally: I’ve just finished two books, for which I was going to grace you with some mini-reviews but as I started writing about them, I discovered I had more to say. (You know how it is sometimes.) So – review of one of them is still to come.

book374The other title that I finished up the other was “Saturday for Funerals” by Unity Dow and Max Essex, and this title covers the state of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana. (I’ve been having some rather *serious* reading lately, haven’t I?)

The title “Saturdays are for Funerals” comes from a reference that in Botswana, funerals are traditionally held on Saturdays and for a while there, there were so many funerals happening (due to HIV) that it was difficult to do chores or anything else. So many people (and their extended families) were being affected that it had become part of the regular routine of the week, like work.

This book was actually a more optimistic read than I had thought it was going to be. Botswana, as a country, has had some effective governance during the time when this book was written, and both of the authors are deeply involved with HIV/AIDS, Dow as a judge (helping families w HIV/AIDS) and then Essex as an infectious disease physician at Harvard. They both have worked together on various projects, and the book had sections written by both of them throughout its chapters.

I’m happy to read work by co-authors if the different pieces flow together in a coherent way, but I’m afraid that this wasn’t the case for this book. Unity Dow is a judge in Gabarone, a large city in Botswana, and she works very closely with city residents (and families) and her writing was more of a casual nature and detailed the cases and how they were adjudicated. Max Essex, on the other hand, is a physician with Harvard and writes to a more academic audience, so his approach is clinical, scientific-based and removed, so the two authors had quite a contrast between them.

Map_BotswanaFor the most part, I didn’t mind having such vastly different approaches to this large public health problem – there’s multiple sides to the issues, after all. However, after a while, the contrast became a barrier to the reading experience, and I rather wish that a neutral editor had come in and smoothed out the parts a bit. Still, it was good information, and it was great to have a book about the proactive steps that one African country is doing to address HIV (and other public health issues), and how they have been working.

So, a bit of a mixed bag here, but if you’re interested in HIV/AIDS or other public health challenges (and some successes), this would be a good read. Botswana was greatly impacted by HIV early in the epidemic years – WHO had estimated that 85% of fifteen-year-olds in this country would die of AIDS – and it’s good to hear positive news about how this was (and is being) addressed by their health care providers and educators.

book370Another quick read was Tattoo Street Style by the blog The Tattoorialist. I had thought it was going to be more of a graphic design look at actual tattoos, and there was some of that, but it was mostly a look at people who are serious tattoo people who are into major body art. So there was lots of tattoo pictures, and then some extra about the person who was actually wearing the tattoos. Interesting – just not the book that I had thought it was going to be (and that’s ok.)

 

 

So life is good here at Just One More Page. Read on, my friends, read on.

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It’s been a while.

Avi Dog having a rare moment of stillness in his puppyhood.

Avi Dog having a rare moment of stillness during his puppyhood. His energy switch was only on or off, and mostly on. One of the busiest dogs we’ve ever known. He will be missed.

Sorry for that unexpected absence. Life and work intervened with full force for a few weeks, and suddenly we’re almost at the end of August.

One of the saddest decisions that we had to make was to put our five-year old Australian Shepherd to sleep as he had what’s called dropjaw. This is a rare neurological disorder that affects the muscles in the head, particularly the bottom jaw, and makes it so the dog can’t eat food or drink water as his jaw muscles have been paralyzed. (Similar to a stroke in humans in some ways.)

After driving Avi Dog to several vets (including one six hours away), he ended up with the diagnosis of trigeminal neuralgia (or dropjaw), a condition which usually resolves itself in 3-4 weeks (according to the few reputable websites which talk about this condition).

So we all soldiered on with Avi:  hand-feeding him (still hungry) and hand-watering him (still thirsty), giving him IV drips to help fluid intake, and going for short walks.

However, as time went on, his condition didn’t seem to improve and he lost his ability to swallow. (So not only could he not eat or drink anything, but even if we put this in his mouth behind his tongue, he would choke on it.) It was heart-breaking and after numerous emergency trips to the vet, it became obvious that although Avi’s spirit was willing, his body wasn’t.

So – here’s to Avi Dog. Our house seems very empty without the Black and White Tornado (which was a description of how much energy Avi had all the time), but he fills our hearts.