Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Good morning from cold but sunny Lexington. Winter is revisiting. I had to scrape ice from my car - who knew the uses for a CVS card - yesterday a.m. before I could leave for the oral surgeons. I saw a number of cars that had an inch or two of snow on them. Today the grass is white with frost but no snow accumulation. Not good as my lilacs were starting to bud.

My surgery has been postponed until the 9th due to my exhaustion and the fact that we have to leave for Kansas City on Thursday and last time I had oral surgery I ended up with infections in two of three incision sites. The bone has filled in just enough to put the smallest screw in for the implant. All this because a dentist on St. Thomas put in a shoddy filling and the molar had to be pulled. Found out that the root may have been damaged on another molar during the wisdom teeth extraction and I may need a root canal on it. In other words, it was not a "good news" visit to the doc's yesterday!

It has been a couple of rough days and isn't going to get better for awhile. Steve's Dad died on Easter and we will be going up for the funeral and spending some time with his Mom and the rest of the family. We leave Thursday and come back Monday. Steve's Dad was such a delightful man and I didn't meet him until the Alzheimer's had already taken his memory of who Steve was so he certainly didn't know who I was, but he liked me. They lived with us for a bit and he some how knew what time I came home from campus and he'd be waiting in the driveway to give me a hug. He was such a flirt and sassy! I had a set routine of getting up and toasting a bagel for breakfast on the mornings I had to go to campus. I'd ask him if he wanted one and he'd shake his head no but 1/2 of my bagel always "disappeared"! So I'd ask, he'd shake his head no, but I'd make two bagels and the other one would disappear - neither of us acknowledged what was going on. Steve tells stories of his Dad's wonderful sense of humor and I wish I had known the man Steve misses so much. I hope he has already met my son Mic in heaven - I am sure they will get along splendidly and be playing tricks on the others. :-)

I haven't finished it so I can't blog in detail yet, but I am loving Mary Pearson's The Adoration of Jenna Fox. This is a gotta have for every YA collection as not only is it extremely well written, it is so intriguing and thought provoking that I keep putting it down to ponder on the observations she makes about what the world could be like with all of the genetic alterations we are making to living things. These could prove both deadly or prolong life - even when doing so is questionable.

One of my students just booktalked The White Darkness by Geraldine McCaughrean - this year's Printz Award winner. I absolutely adore the book but not one of her teens chose it as one they would read. It may have been the excerpt she chose to read to them as I am not sure too many teens would be turned on by the idea of being in love with dead guy 90 years older than them :-) But, Sym certainly is in love with the idea of Titus Oates, one of the early explorers to Antarctic who died during the experience. But, he is with Sym as she navigates life via hearing aids and dealing with other medical issues due to being experimented on as a child with overdoses of antibiotics. With her father dead (who she thinks despised her) her "Uncle" Victor is all she has, other than her quiet mother who lets Victor move into their home and "manage" their money. Sym knows everything there is to know about Antarctica and she has to use every bit of that knowledge when a trip to Paris turns into an expedition to Antarctica. Uncle Victor is sure there is a civilization that lives beneath the ice cap and he is going to become famous when he locates it. But, staying alive is going to be utmost on Sym's agenda as she watches Victor slip deeper and deeper into insanity as he searches for the hole to another world. One of the most terrifying books I have read where the monster is pure white and totally impervious to the feeble attempts of humans to control it. I wish I had time to go back and read it again. I will booktalk it, but I think I'l do it as a first person from Sym's point of view.

All for today.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The day before Easter and it is cold and miserable outside. Nevertheless, I am delighted to be home and don't miss the islands at all! Rotten weather or not, we went for our usual lunch at Steak and Shake. I didn't snitch any of Steve's fries, which I normally would. But, we ate so darn many of them in Tobago it will be a long time before I crave French fries again. The Tobago Hilton had a very limited lunch menu and most every item came with fries, bunches of them. Too bad they were really good! We both put on weight during our vacation. Though quite expensive, the food on Tobago was good, especially the locally made banana bread, which was more like a moist fruit cake. On Barbados we stayed at the Almond Village Resort - an all inclusive place. The food was good and there are a number of resort restaurants to choose from. It is a very large resort and there were kids everywhere. There wasn't a meal time that a little one wasn't having a melt down. Very much a family resort. I'd go back again, but I'd take the grandkids with us. They'd love it. There is a huge pool with a couple of slides, etc. for the kids as well as other pools that adults without kids hung out at, including us. The best part was the friendly cat with ocelot type markings who decided my lap was a good place for a nap. She even had chicken with me for lunch.

Almond Village is on a quiet part of Barbados - quite a taxi ride to get there, through miles and miles of cane fields. It reminded me of Hawaii in that regard. We played tourist one day and visited one of the a caves. The taxi was a Mercedes! The elderly gentleman driving it told us about the sugar mills and how most of the sugar goes to Europe. The molasses goes into Mount Gay rum, of course. The cave was interesting as we went in on a trolley and they used spot lights to show us particular features. I shuddered as I thought of the early explorers who crawled in through the narrow tunnels to find the large openings. Only one other couple on the trolley with us into the cave even though it was high season in the islands. A majority of the other tourists we met on both islands were British.

I'll post some pictures as soon as my computer is working again. I am on Steve's as mine is acting up - it has been named Delilah! I hope Steve figures out what is wrong with it as I haven't backed up my documents - not smart at all!!

Just finished reading A. E. Canon's The Loser's Guide to Life and Love, a new HarperCollins title coming out in June. It is a contemporary version of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. It is quite quirky and young teenage girls who like humorous chick lit will like this novel narrated by four teens whose lives intertwine. Predominantly set in a video shop where both Ed (a self proclaimed vertically challenged nerd) and Scout (a closet romance reader who has changed her name from one that is quite feminine) work for Ali who may just make you think of a genie from another famous story. They are both working the day Ellie, a beautiful naive blonde, enters the shop and Ed falls hard for her and decides to become Sergie from Brazil. After all, that is what the badge on Ed's uniform states. The problem is, Scout has a thing for Ed, though he thinks they are "just" best friends. Add Ed's friend Quark to the mix - a tall skinny science genius who decides he loves Scout. Star crossed teenage lovers, of a sort, spend 10 days of a hot dry Salt Lake City June trying to sort out their feelings about themselves and each other. Chapters include first person narratives from Ed's and Scout's points of view, emails Ellie would like to send to the college guy who betrayed her as well as letters to her grandmother, and an occasional entry from Quark's lab book. Teen angst drips from the pages along with humor welling up and spilling out - causing the reader to both grimace and and snort laugh. A light fun read for tweens and teens.

On the adult front I am listening to yet another Elizabeth Peter's historical mystery set in Egypt and loving every minute of it. Also part way through reading a Christine Feehan paranormal romance. I would have read more on vacation but I became addicted to easy crossword puzzles - over 100 of them. And I will admit I had to cheat - a lot!! In other words - I am really BAD at them, but they are such fun.

Happy Easter to all and I wish you lots of dark chocolate bunny ears. :-)

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh boy - what a couple of weeks it has been. I am in Greenville. We got home from our vacation yesterday afternoon and I headed for the airport again this morning for a couple of days of meetings.

As far as airports go - I have begun rating them. Lexington is wonderful - the security guard actually had a sense of humor today and I felt so happy to be home! After the nightmare in Tobago, most any other airport would seem wonderful though. We arrived on a Liat flight into Tobago, from Barbados, and made our way to the customs line in time to see a woman throwing a fit because of the length of the line from the huge jet from London. The 7 of us from the tiny Liat flight had our own line and made our way through quickly. I can understand why she was upset but it was a bit disconcerting to have her screaming at the security and customs officers. I heard there had also been a fight between two locals before we got there. Apparently this is typical for the Tobago airport as it can take 2 hours to get through customs, let alone get your luggage. Took us forever to get our luggage and as we made on our way out, Steve pulling his golf bag and me with a cart with our luggage, I couldn't get through the door after the last security check. They only had one of the double doors open and a whole group of local cab drivers stood there with smirks on their face as I tried to get the other door open to get the cart through. Not one of them offered to help. I was so upset by the time I got out to the sidewalk where Steve was with the guy from local car rental agency that I was fuming. Steve saw the look on my face and realized Ruth was not a happy camper!! We then ended up with a car with 70,000 miles, a dashboard in pieces (some one tried to steal the CD/radio), a piece on the floor near the door was falling off, and the muffler rattled so bad I was embarrassed when we came to a stop! We drove around the island, which has very narrow windy roads and discovered that the locals are not at all friendly - some down right nasty. After that we stayed pretty close to "home" - the Hilton, which was in a beautiful location (quiet, on the windward side of the island) but in need of repairs. We went out to dinner at restaurants that were recommended and even those were not always comfortable to be in - terrible service. Our departure from the airport was no better - Liat charged $125 extra for luggage even though we only paid $50 out of Barbados and the guy at the exit tax window shorted us $20 in change. He just ignored Steve when he asked for the rest of the change. Although the vacation at the Hilton was very restful, I would never go back to Tobago.

I did do some reading. I had forgotten how much I enjoy the "gentle" romances of Jude Devereaux. I read Always, a very delightful time travel romance. Her books are bubble bath/beach reads but do have a bit of historical information as well. Did you ever think you may have a soul mate who lived in a different time? Or, perhaps you come back in various bodies and in different generations. Would you recognize your loved one even though you fell in love with him/her in your last life and she died in your arms? Certainly had me thinking as I read this. Although the characters are not teenagers, I do think teenage girls who love romances would enjoy these and I'd have no problems with recommending them as they don't go beyond suggestive. Some of the bodice rippers are so explicit it is more like erotica than romance.

It's late and I have a meeting in the a.m. so I am going to call it a night, even if there is an episode of Will and Grace on I haven't seen.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Isn't she gorgeous? Our granddaughter McKinley Elizabeth Quade was born Sunday, February 24, 2008 at 12:43 a.m. 7 lbs. 3 oz. My daughter Mary and baby are doing fine. Due to my health I wasn't able to travel to Green Bay for her birth, but hope to get up there soon. Grandsons are adjusting to a little sister as well as can be expected. The year old is majorly jealous, but that's to be expected.

I have been awful about keeping up with the blog. Between doctor's appointments and my "lay down times" I have had to put my courses and students first and not much else gets done. I saw a new neurologist as the cervical spine procedure did not have the results we had hoped for and the pain can be worse now than before. His diagnosis is fibromyalgia, which has been supported by my GP, so I am waiting to get in to a rheumatologist for a diagnosis confirmation and to start on a treatment plan of some type. But, at least the Requip the neurologist prescribed for restless leg syndrome (goes along with fibromyalgia) is helping me sleep so the fatigue isn't quite as bad. "Downside" to it is I am turning into a morning person - heaven forbid! The rain woke me up at 5:00 this a.m. but I am normally up and about before Steve leaves for work. I won't mention the mini-naps I end up taking during the day though! Been reading about fibromyalgia online so I am not quite so freaked out about it, but it sure explains the "migrating" pain and fatigue I have had since 2002. More than a bit irritating that it has taken this long, and a surgery that was not needed, to get what appears to be a correct diagnosis.

Steve has been wonderful about taking care of me and for Spring break we are headed to the islands. We leave for Barbados early tomorrow morning. Three days there and the rest of the vacation on Tobago. He has decided I need a true non-working vacation (first one since the 90s) and I am leaving behind the laptop and the cell phone. I am sure I will have laptop withdrawal something terrible so we are taking a travel Scrabble board, cards, and lots of books. I may even print off some easy crossword puzzles for myself. I am terrible at them, but they are fun. So while he golfs in the a.m. I plan on reading in bed and then moving on to reading under a palm tree. Have Elizabeth Peters, Christine Feehan, Jude Devereaux, and Fern Michaels paperbacks in my luggage. No work related reading either. :-)

I did, however, just finish an absolutely beautifully written YA novel by Kathe Koja - Kissing the Bee. I grabbed if off my "to read" shelf on my way out the door to yet another doctor's appointment because it was thin and easy to carry. It may be only 121 pages long, but oh what a wondrous 121 pages - fascinating bee facts and lore (for her science project) interwoven into seventeen-year-old Dana's life. She is the female worker bee, her self centered friend Avra the queen bee, and Emil, Avra's boyfriend whom Dana is in love with, fears his love for Avra may indeed be the death of him as it is for a male bee. What elaborate steps both Emil and Dana take to dance around Avra as they try to avoid her venomous verbal stings. But Emil and Dana's solo trip to an apiary (bee farm) changes the dynamics of the human hive and the queen bee may have neither bee dancing for her. Display this one cover out - gorgeous gold tone illustration of a girl's face, eyes closed, with a bee about to land on her nose. Koja also wrote Buddha Boy, Going Under, and The Blue Mirror. Buddha Boy is one of my all time favorite YA novels.

That's it for today.