Archive for August, 2013

Here’s a brief personal note for those of you who have I have come, over the past year or so, to think of as my long-distance friends.

As some of you may know, I am possessed of an elderly mother in frail physical health. She has been managing to live alone in her own house, with assistance from family and drop-in Home Care services, though it was becoming apparent to all of us that this was an increasingly precarious situation.

A week ago Thursday Mom had an early morning tumble. She was unable to get up, and, having struck her head when she landed, somehow did not collect herself enough to make the attempt to push her LifeLine call button which she wears 24/7 for just such a situation. She was on the floor a good five hours before we twigged that there was something wrong – when she missed her regular morning check-in call to me – and by the time we found her she had lost a lot of blood and was hypothermic.

She was ambulanced in to the hospital, warmed up and stitched up and rehydrated and given several units of blood; luckily nothing was broken, though she was very sore and bruised all over. She was coming along reasonably well – sitting up in bed, complaining mildly about the hospital food, and zipping through a book a day, and we were looking into convalescent arrangements for her, when she (not unexpectedly – she’s been rather crackly in the lungs even before her fall) developed pneumonia. She’s now on a course of antibiotics which seems to be helping limit the progression of her infection, but she’s very tired, has no appetite, and is generally not looking very chipper at all. She’s still reading a bit, which is a good sign, but her progress is now just a few pages per day.

Needless to say we are all feeling a bit helpless; we’re at “wait it out” stage right now, to see which way things go. Mom’s had a previous serious bout of pneumonia, but she rallied from that after being given up on by her doctor, so we’re hoping she’ll tough this one out, too. But, realistically, she just might not.

She’s fairly comfortable, has great care in the hospital, and we’re trying to get into a new routine of balancing time at the hospital with the relentless progression of summer jobs on the farm. I am doing a lot of sitting around waiting, and am finding that there is definitely some reading time – blessed books, what a good escape from our worldly woes! – but somehow the focus on writing for the blog is harder to attain.

I have a whole slew of posts started; these will be appearing as I’m able to get them finished off; I do have bits of quiet time here and there and focussing on talking about books is a refreshing change of pace, all things considered.

So that’s where I’m at right now. Things could change at a moment’s notice if Mom has a sudden downturn, or it could be one of those long, prolonged, everything-in-limbo situations. So this post is all I’ll say (at least for now) about the situation; my book posts will likely not reflect much of this, though it will of course be constantly there in my thoughts!

It had looked like this summer would be quiet and uneventful, but life changes in a moment sometimes, setting all of our trivial human plans awry…

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Inspired by this morning’s post over at Gudrun’s Tights discussing best reads of the year to date, I went ahead and picked out my own personal “Top 5”, but, sadly, could not get my reply to come through. (Apparently the comments have been acting up on the blog; I’m wondering if that’s why I can’t seem to get mine up.) So, since I already typed it all out, here is my list.

Picking a top 5 for the first half of 2013 was easy/hard. I did read some rather outstanding books. A few more than 5, actually, but here are the ones that really stood out.  I’ve only reviewed three of these; the others deserved more review time than I could spare at the time of reading, so they’ll be under more focus in future.

  •  All the Little Live Things (1967) by Wallace Stegner – Two couples at differing points in their lives become neighbours and friends in a rural California setting. The book examines love in various forms – romantic, platonic, parental – as well as the different ways individuals deal with emotional traumas and the brutal realities of too-early deaths. Sounds grim, but it is a hauntingly presented story which I found powerful, thought-provoking and ultimately comforting in its examination of ways of embracing grief and going forward. (Not reviewed yet.)
  • The Joyous Season (1964) by Patrick Dennis – another farcical period-piece (the period in question being 1960s, upper-class New York) by  Auntie Mame‘s author. Two children cope with their parents’ proposed divorce in a very “civilized” way. Mostly humorous, with a truly poignant ending.
  • The Sisters Brothers (2011) by Patrick DeWitt – I missed reading this when it was all the rage a year or two ago, but now I get what all the buzz was about. A rather twisted saga of two brothers employed as contract killers in the 1850s. Very dark, very clever, very funny. (Not reviewed yet. I might not review this one; it has been so popular that it seems a bit pointless to add my words to the many that are already out there. Can I just say that I loved this book, and leave it at that? 😉 )
  • Crewe Train (1926) by Rose Macaulay – a highly unusual, absolutely stoic English girl who has grown up in an isolated Spanish village is brought back to England by her upper-class relations after she is orphaned. The resulting cultural clashes are highly entertaining, and highlight the foibles of “accepted behaviour” in a rather cunning way.
  • Hostages to Fortune (1933) by Elizabeth Cambridge – a quiet domestic drama centered around a doctor’s wife, her marriage, and her motherhood. A keen-eyed examination of a common experience which has many parallels to family life today. The essentials never change.

To answer the other question, regarding weekend plans, oh yes – I do indeed have those! Let’s see…

Yesterday I (unexpectedly!) bought a piano in the big city several hours away; today will be devoted to getting it home. There’s also a huge family reunion going on this weekend just a few miles away; all of my husband’s relations will be convening, so I’ll be cooking for that, and attending, of course, PLUS my elderly mother who is at present incarcerated in the hospital after a bad fall last week (she’s on the mend) will need multiple visits; she’s in the small city an hour away. So driving, talking, cooking, eating – in that order – are my themes for the upcoming long weekend! (Not much reading time, I fear.)

Hope you are all having a good summer. And what have your outstanding reads been this year to date?

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