January & February 2010: In Brief, Part 1

Quote of the Month:

"There are two ways of spreading light; to be the candle or the mirror that reflects it." Edith Wharton

Sinus and Poison and Snow!  Oh my!  Fresh off my victory of passing a new kidney stone without medical intervention– Ding Dong the Stone is Gone! — I set off on my own yellow brick road in search of productivity.  I had plans for rewriting my middle grade novel  and a schedule for organizing the house.  The first two weeks of January I skipped along the path of novel drafting and danced down the trail of organizing, feeling the thrill of productivity.

Then came the obstacles.  dun dun DUN.  A sinus infection flooded my brain with mucus and drained all my energy. I did several daily nasal irrigations, took antibiotics, and downed painkillers in hopes of defeating the infection.

Though we’d done all kinds of fixing and cleaning to the house, I started having acute allergic reactions again, along with the sinus infection. Did you know a bunch of Tylenol and Motrin was recalled because of some kind of mold-like chemical taint that caused people to feel nauseous?  I was standing in line at the pharmacy buying extra Benadryl when I saw the recall notice and realized I was probably allergic to this chemical. At home I checked the lot numbers– and sure enough–my painkillers were tainted.  Once I stopped taking the tainted drugs, my allergy attacks stopped.  Thank you recall signs. Come back consumer protection!  I miss you.

"Snowmageddon"–the sequel of our December "snowpocalypse"– dumped 27 inches of pretty winter road obstacles on DC, shutting down the schools and the federal government.  I surrendered to being sick and snowed in and distracted myself by watching movies and hanging out with my family.  When "snowmageddon 2" dumped another 10 inches on us, I figured I’d worry about getting things done after the snow.

The icicles are gone now, the snow’s melting, and the kids are back in school.  My favorite doctor started me on a new course of antibiotics and made me a color-coded sinusitis treatment plan. I’m back on the path to productivity.  Hope I make it this time!

Sub Jobs:

Fiction Books Finished:
Fire, by Kristin Cashore (****1/2)- Seventeen-year old Fire is the last of the human monsters living in the land of the Dells. Her tantalizing beauty and her ability to read and persuade weak minds keeps her from living a normal life. It doesn’t help that the former King and her monster father– a close aide to the king– practically destroyed the Dells with their pillaging and plundering.  Now the Dells are on the brink of war and the royal family asks for Fire’s help. 

This prequel to Graceling starts off slow, as the real action doesn’t begin until over a 100 pages into the story.  Once the story was got interesting though, I enjoyed the mix of royal soap opera, spy intrigue, romance, and action-adventure tale.  [YA fiction, for ages 13 and up]

Gregor and the Marks of Secret, by Suzanne Collins (***1/2) – I enjoyed the fourth Underlander book.  While it’s a good, tense cautionary story about the start of war, it is very dark for a book geared toward elementary schoolers– so not for the extremely sensitive. [For ages 10 and up. Parent Note: There are some fairly intense descriptions of genocide seen from afar.]

Non-FIction Books Finished:
The Nine Nations of North America, by Joel Garreau (***) – 1970’s Washington Post reporter, Joel Garreau, writes about his observations on North America.  His basic theory is that North America is a composite of nine different cultural and financial nations: New England, the Foundry, Dixie, the Islands, Mexamerica, Ecotopia, the Empty Quarter, the Breadbasket, and Quebec. He describes Washington D.C., Manhattan, Hawaii, and Alaska as aberrations.

Since this book is 30 years old some of it is dated.  In the discussion on the Foundry, for example, Garreau describes the 100-dollar row house sale in Baltimore as a project that is just getting started.  Still, the basic concept of each region and its description hold up surprising well after 30 years and make for an interesting read. [Adult Non-Fiction, published in 1980]

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