Monday, May 31, 2010

I am wondering how Mary's family trip up to her dad's camp went this weekend. They were taking Zoey. This pic is of Mary curled up with Zoey at 13 weeks. She now is so long she takes up the whole couch and over 85 pounds. Mary was trying to figure out how to fit her in the front seat with her while Scott drives. The three kids take up the whole backseat. I can't imagine having a dog that big. I'd worry about getting knocked over.

It has been a quiet weekend. Yesterday was our 8th anniversary and we just stayed home and watched old movies. I had not seen Mr. Roberts with Henry Fonda, James Cagney and William Powell. I love William Powell as Nick in The Thin Man series of movies with Myrna Loy. Some folks know this movie more for the canine star, Asta. Anyway, Powell plays the older philosophical doctor on a cargo ship during WWII in Mr. Roberts. Fonda, who plays Mr. Roberts, wants to be in the action but Cagney, the tyrannical captain, won't approve his transfer to another ship. It is a delightful movie and a nice way to end our anniversary.

I've not been doing well after the 2nd episode and most of the weekend before last in the ER - first at St. Joe's and then UK Hospital's ER. Our neighborhood St. Joe's doesn't have a neurologist on call and the main St. Joe's wasn't taking ER patients as their power was out. So I was sent to UK's ER by ambulance. First time in one and I hope my last. I got to UK around 1 a.m. and was put in one of those rooms with the curtains between patients. I got to listen to a drunk UK student whine and throw up - she was found sitting in her car passed out and brought in by UK's police. What a "story" she had for her mother the next morning! Oh fun! The guy on the other side of her was waiting to be admitted and listened to a foul mouthed group of comedians roast Bob Sackett on Comedy Central that lasted all night. I've now heard the f-word more times than I ever want to. The nurses didn't ask him to turn it down and it could be heard well outside of of the room as the door was wide open. I had the bed next to the door so got to see everyone going by in the hallway and they saw me. Sleep wasn't possible. No lights out and even worse, no call button. I had to scream to get one of the nurse's attention to help me get to the bathroom, which was filthy. A male nurse, but I had to go bad enough I wasn't too worried about it. I cannot figure out how that ER area could be so dirty when I saw no less than 4 different cleaning people come through while I lay there. One of them emptied out the holder on the wall for needles and syringes and used his bare hands to pull one apart and shove it down inside. I was cringing as he did that. I lay there all night with few checks from the nurses and a couple of the neurologist docs checking in on me, giving differing opinions as to what was wrong since the CT Scan from St. Joe's didn't show stroke damage but I was experiencing partial paralysis of my legs and arms as well as slurred speech. One of them so kindly said, "Did you know your left eye is drooping?" Duh! The headache was so bad I thought my left eyeball was going to pop out and the nurse sent in one of UK EMT guys with Tylenol as the neurologist had forgotten to write an order for pain meds! They didn't do the MRI until almost noon, much too late to show any stroke damage so it was a waste of my time and money. They finally let me leave when I assured them I had gained enough use of my legs to go home. Four UK neurologists later and no clear answer to the episode that I have yet to recover from.

Thank goodness I had an appointment with a Pain Management doc set up and saw him on Friday. It didn't take him long to make a clinical diagnosis of occipital neuralgia with headache and whiplash damage to my neck from the fall down the steps in Denver. He was pretty surprised I'd been dealing with the pain for a year and 1/2. No treatment is what has resulted in the episodes and the 24/7 headache. I go back in next week for the first treatment to the occipital nerve. I am feeling like there may be light at the end of the tunnel, but it sure has been long in coming. The Worker's Comp. rep was with me at the appointment and apologized for it taking so long for her to get me in to a doc who deals with head trauma. The UK neurologists were clueless. Specialist put blinders on and can't see beyond what they are accustomed to diagnosing. It is going to take awhile but I will get back some quality of life. The WC rep. won't schedule my knee surgery until the trauma doc can give me some relief from the headache and inflamed nerves episodes that resemble strokes. She took one look at how exhausted I am and said there is no way my body could handle both the pain treatments and the surgery. So, in the meantime I'll keep hobbling around and hope for the best. What a horrible last few weeks it has been. I don't wish an ER overnight visit like I had on anyone.

So, I've been trying to take it easy and give my eyes a break from the computer screen but it hasn't been easy. I've been going through some of the picture books again and love Liz Rosenberg and Julie Downing's Nobody. I'm sure those of you who are parents had a Nobody living in your house who enticed your kids to do the things they wouldn't do on their own. This is the case with young George whose imaginary friend, Nobody, loves to get into mischief as they do early one morning before the parents are up. Downing's grayish version of Nobody is delightful in a spotted footed sleeper and corkscrew-like curls. What expression she can add with just a few lines. And George - freckle faced, with hair standing on end. George and Nobody decide to make omelets. "It was a lot of work. Nobody called out words of encouragement. Nobody mopped up the first few mistakes. Then George sat and waited because he wasn't allowed to turn on the stove when Nobody was around." Two shocked parents arrive in the kitchen in their bathrobes to find the kitchen in shambles. "George, what were you thinking?" But, it isn't going to end in a scolding as mom sees George's face and gives him a squeeze and says, "I was really in the mood for pancakes. Do you think you could help me make some?" "But, of course," answered George. "Pancakes are my specialty." I wish I had this book when my kids were little as their invisible mischief maker was named "Not Me!"

Much less fun to read, but certainly a book I won't forget reading is David Patneaude's Epitaph Road It came to mind as it is Memorial Day and I remember how my breath stuck in my chest the first time I saw all the small white crosses in a Veteran's cemetery. My dad was a WWII vet so talking about the military and the men who died during that war was part of my growing up. Dad was in the South Pacific so he didn't see the mass graves in the concentration camps but that is what I thought of when Patneaude described the mass burial memorial for the thousands of people, mostly men who died from a virus that killed 97 percent of the male population on earth. Imagine being a teenage boy, one of the few males, and the son of one of the women who worked closely with the government and monitoring the small splinter groups of men who choose to live in isolated settlements. Kellen is this 15-year-0ld teenage boy and he is furious that his mother is not going to allow him to spend the summer with his father, a fisherman who docks in a small coastal village on Washington state's coastline. When Kellen and the two new girls who have moved into his group home overhear the adults talking they figure out what is going on. The women in control have decided it is time to deal with the rebellious men and they know just how to do it - not much different than the last time. Now it is a race against time and the authorities as the three teenagers ride out on their bikes to save Kellen's dad.

That's it for today. A long post and then some.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Folks - don't throw away the publisher's catalog you receive - they are a wealth of information. I know most of us like to order things online, but the print catalog from the publishers are a delightful way to get to the know the authors and books before you receive them in your library or home. If the cover of Bloomsbury and Walker Books for Young Readers' catalog doesn't get your attention - half of a female face with a golden tear trailing down from a closed eye with a golden lid - I would be very surprised. I recognized the cover and had to flip through the catalog first to find Captivate by Carrie Jones so I could read the blurb on its sequel Need in which you find out about the trial of gold dust. Need also has an arresting cover - this time the lips are gold. For those of you who want a paranormal romance, but not focused on vampires or werewolves, Jones has offered up a pixie king who is both sexy and dangerous. Zara's world is turned upside down when he states she is fated to be his queen. Let the girls know about as they can learn about the author, watch book trailers, read reviews, and even enter a contest. Very cool! Use the Internet to pique the teens' interest in reading. Bookmark book trailers on the library computers and display the books that go with them near the computers. You'll be replacing books regularly! :)

The other thing I look for in publishers' catalogs is the debut titles. Jen Nadol's The Mark caught my attention as it deals with the ability to see the glow around a person who is about to die. If you know this, should/could you stop the death from happening?

I chuckled aloud when I read the blurb for Jean Reidy and Genevieve Leloup's picture book debut - Too Purpley! as this little fashionista has been my daughter and is my granddaughter! What fun to watch the girly/girly clothing demands, except when you are running late! I sent McKinley a princess costume and she loves it - so does her brother Kegan, which just tickles my fancy!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Some freebies are better than others and one of the best I've seen lately is the Net Cetera: Chatting with Kids About Being Online, a booklet from the government that can be ordered free of charge from You can order them in bulk and hand them out at PTA meetings and other venues where parents and educators meet. Our teens and tweens know more about the online and cell phone environments than most adults do. I just upgraded to a Blackberry and have yet to figure out how to use its features. Wish I had a teen around to help me set it up!

Advanced Reading Copies (ARCs) are wonder freebies as well and even better when they are signed by the author. Benedict Carey's The Unknowns is one of those books I thought I would dislike as I am so not into math, but I enjoyed it as a futuristic adventure and not as a math teacher might! Honestly, I ignored most of the mathematical computations that a group of young teens use to create a map to the underground tunnels that will take them to the nuclear power plant where a plan is underway to destroy the trash covered island the tweens live on. People have been disappearing from the enormous trailer park next to the underground nuclear power plant, but it isn't until their math tutor disappears that young Lady Di and Tom Jones pay attention. They know how to sneak from one place to another just about anywhere on their island but they need help to find the entrance to the nearby gigantic, ordorous dump, Trashmore. They are assisted by a unique set of characters who also live in Adjacent, the harsh environment that they call home. The best part of this book is rooting for Di and Tom as their self esteem and self confidence rise when they solve each piece of the puzzle their tutor left as clues. Give this one to the middle school tweens who enjoy math and/0r like solving puzzles.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Before I forget again – Beastly - Alex Flinn’s wonderful retelling of the Beauty and the Beast tale, will be a movie, coming out July 30th. Just came across the page I pulled out of the 4/2/10 Entertainment Weekly with a picture of Neal Patrick Harris, who will play Kyle’s blind tutor. He is wearing greenish, very cool almost Wicked looking glasses. Vanessa Hudgens plays the girl who believes in him. And, of all people - Mary-Kate Olsen plays the witch who curses Kyle. Olsen is nothing like the chubby character I imagined from the book! I watched the trailer here: Kyle also looks nothing like I imagined, but this does look like a movie I will enjoy. Doesn’t follow the storyline as closely as I’d like, even in the trailer, but most movies don’t.

The tattoo-like markings on Kyle's body remind me of the markings I imagined Green inflicts upon herself in Green Angel by Alice Hoffman – one of my all time favorite YA novels. I haven’t read Green Witch the sequel yet, but it is on my “gotta read” list. I am a big Hoffman fan and wish I had time to wallow in her books.

I am sure the green round glasses remind me of the ones worn by the residents of OZ in Wicked as we went to see it in Louisville Saturday afternoon. It was wonderful! Gregory Maguire is a gifted author and I've been dying to see the play. I was spellbound! But, it also brought to mind just how adult in theme and nature Maguire's books actually are. Wicked brings Elphaba to life as a child and a woman who is much less wicked in nature than most of the good folks of Oz. But the themes of prejudice, adultery, child abandonment, etc. are not child/tween appropriate. I also found myself at the edge of tears many times while reading Son of a Witch - written 10 years after Wicked and as brilliant. Is the teenage boy found beaten in a gully outside the castle Elphaba supposedly died in really her son? Liir sets out on a quest to find out who he is and where he belongs in this chaotic realm of Oz, so very different from the one I imagined while reading Baum's classic tale so many years ago. I am currently reading the 3rd title in the Wicked Years Series - A Lion Among Men and it is heartbreaking so far. Abandoned at birth and used as a lab experiment, the adult lion, named Brr for his cowardly quivering, may have traveled far to find out more about Elphaba from the old seer Yackle, but he really is in search of who he is and how anyone, even a lion, could abandon a child/cub. Maguire clearly isn't writing for children and I am always amazed when I hear of tween reading these books.

Back to finding the top of my desk!