Happy New Year Wednesday, Dec 31 2008 

to all!

Here at The Briary, our New Year’s Eve and Day will be quiet, due to current circumstances.

However, despite Doc’s continuing pain and my Nancy Nurse cap slightly askew, we are grateful for small things:

A neighbor bringing our daily paper and mail to us down the end of the rural road we live on.

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Others brought Chinese food tonight (no cooking!),  a real treat.

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Our Chapel Hill friends, down for the holiday, brought us crispy baguettes and a challah from our food co-op in Carrboro.

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Paramedic son procured an over-bed table for Doc (not covered by insurance) but he’s using our breakfast-in-bed tray, fearful of hitting his knee on it with a quick move.  However, it is EXACTLY the right size for a laptop table for moi, allowing me to blog here and there and check emails.  Way cool.

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Most of all, the love of a supportive family and good friends.

May your 2009 be filled with happiness and light, with peace and good health.

Merry Christmas~ Thursday, Dec 25 2008 

Chestnuts aren’t roasting on our fire as we hit 60 degrees here in northeastern NC!

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We are having a quiet day with just Mom out to visit as Doc is home from the hospital but not up to company.  He’s in bed, in pain, nauseous and uncomfortable, and REALLY HATES using the bedside commode.

But he’s here, the surgery was successful, and now the hard recovery period begins.

We’ll be having our big dinner on Saturday, when Paramedic Son and his wife are off work and can join us, and hopefully by then Doc will actually feel like eating something!

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I’ve pulled out all my nursing skills, from bed baths to back rubs, checking for pedal pulses, redressing and rewrapping and reicing the knee.  That includes biting my tongue to keep back snarky comments remain pleasant at all times, as men are, as women everywhere know and acknowledge, the WORST patients.  Throw in the fact that he’s a retired surgeon, and it only escalates from there.

But I’m happy he’s home, I’m happy it’s Christmas, and I’m sending all of you peace and love.

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Fracture Wednesday, Dec 17 2008 

FRACTURE was the name of a really neat and intense Anthony Hopkins movie I saw on DVD a few months ago.

It is also what happened today when my sister’s 120 lb chocolate lab, Judas, (don’t ask) ran into Doc’s knee, head first, all that poundage transferred sideways, breaking his tibial plateau and probably tearing some ligaments to boot.

I was in the house throwing dog bed covers into their own cycle of wash when I heard Paramedic son calling me outside. I strolled to the porch and saw Doc sitting on a cooler. Why is he sitting on a cooler? I asked. Why is he so white? came next, as I got a good look.

It took P. son and myself over ten minutes to wrap a pillow around the bad knee and get Doc into the car to go to town to the Doctor. I insisted he pop a Percocet on the way; he did not argue. This was bad sign number 1.

Bad sign number 2 came when our doc took me back to show me the Xrays and even I could see the fractures, wedge-shaped, on the tibial plateau, the head of the long bone in the lower leg that your knee sits on and that carries your weight.

Now Doc is a big boy, 6’4″ in height, and despite a recent 40 lb weight loss, still a formidable giant of a man. So the bone that takes his weight has to be in tip-top shape, and right now it’s in 3 pieces….

He got a shot; he got a knee immobilizer; he got an ice pack; he got shiny new crutches and had to practice lurching around the ER until the nurse, a friend of ours, let him go home.
This time he spread out across the back seat and I went VERY slowly on the drive home due to the bumps.

Fortunately we have a lift up to our house and he used it today. He’s been in bed with ice, pain pills, his crutches resting next to him, in a bit of a snit over the entire thing. I spent a few hours canceling our appointments and engagements for the next three weeks.

Tomorrow we see the orthopod, who will probably do a CAT scan or MRI and pass judgment, but our doc and the Physical therapist pal we have both feel he needs screws. No, not that kind, although he’d probably love one of those too if he had enough pain meds in him. Not tonight, sweetheart, nor for many nights to come, I fear.

I’ll keep you posted, but may be out of touch for a few days while we literally straighten this leg out. Poor guy.
All due to a close collision with a dog…..sheesh.

The World According to Bertie Saturday, Dec 13 2008 

Following on the theme earlier this week of Tartans and Scottie dogs, I bring you the newest book set in Scotland from McCall Smith.

If you have been following the adventures of the precocious five-year old named Bertie who this book is titled for, you will know he is one of the residents at 44 Scotland St, Edinburgh.

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McCall Smith must be one of the most prolific writers I’ve come across, with four series running at this time, with the exception of Nora Roberts, my sister’s fave, who spits out a novel every other week in some genre.

The inhabitants at this address become old friends as you follow the series, and none is more endearing than little Bertie.   A child of extraordinary talents whose mum schedules his life, he plays the saxophone, has conversations in Italian, and takes yoga lessons, all the while yearning to play with other little boys and perhaps ride a train.  The addition of a new baby brother hardly distracts his mum at all from her predestined plans for the little tyke.

McCall also advances the stories of the other occupants:

Domenica, the anthropologist, whose great friend is Angus, the portrait painter.  Angus is never without his dog friend, Cyril, and we occasionally are privy to Cyril’s thoughts, so you know Auntie M loves him.

There is Pat, a young student who works at an art gallery with the shy Matthew;

Brian, a narcissistic toy boy who may just have met his match in this book;

and a host of others whose lives are explored in installments that are first published in the Edinburgh newspaper serially.

This series is filled with locales, name-dropping, neighborhoods and celebrities, so anyone enjoying Scotland at all will feel they have been for a visit.  (Trying To Be Greener check these out!)

Unfathomable Friday, Dec 12 2008 

Auntie M enjoys the pictures we get at Christmas of friend’s children.  We track their progress, see whom they favor, giggle at lost teeth and wide smiles.  I keep these non-family-but-very-special photo’s in their own album, adding the new snaps every year.

We also dote on our four Grands, even though they live so far away.  We have hopes that one day down the road Paramedic Son and his wife will give us one living closer, too.  These little people are a joy to behold, so very different from having one’s own.  There is a remove there, a generational gap which allows us to enjoy them, spoil them and love them without the agony of parenting and the full time worry.  Pure bliss.

And although Our Three Sons are all married now, Doc and I can still easily recall those days when we were the responsible parents: the time committment, the aching for them when things were off, the delight with them when they went well, the accomplishments and the failures and the hurts and the highs as we watched them grow and become independent human beings with thoughts and feelings all their own.  Three distinct personalities, all special.

So it is with a heavy heart that I heard on the news today that it is very likely the body of a little girl missing for over six months has been found in Florida.  I ache for those grandparents, their worst fears confirmed, who now have to grieve for their grandchild even as they face the very real probability that their own child is capable of murder.  I wonder at the mental process of a parent who can toss their own child away and see this most precious gift as only a burden.  And I feel deep sadness for that little life cut so very short, not through illness or any fault of her own.

It’s unthinkable, and it’s left me in a blue funk all day.

Tartan Scottie Tuesday, Dec 9 2008 

Auntie M hasn’t figured out the origins, but there’s something about a black Scottie dog she adores.

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And it slays me even better with a tartan ribbon around his neck or blanket on~ there is always one being walked somewhere in every novel I write.  One day some reader will notice this and write to me about it.

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Maybe it’s because they remind me of licorice, and I LOVE licorice!

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I have never wanted to own this particular type of dog~I just love the way they look: scruffy (I’m big on scruffy, being a kind of scruffy person myself); feisty; fun-loving; and just darn cute.  Kind of regal in a small package, and I’m big on small packages, being height-challenged myself.

I think I were to ever own one, he’d have to be called MacTavish, or Hamish, don’t you think?

What’s your thing that just gets to you? (in a good way!)

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At Christmas symbol I use dishes with  a Scottie with a tartan rim for me and Doc; I have just those two plates and bowl and wish I had the entire set of dishes for winter use.  How decadent!  Whilst the snowmen and angels and holly abounds, look closely and you’ll find a few Scotties on our tree (with tartan collars, of course).

John Royston Saturday, Dec 6 2008 

Auntie M acknowledges upfront that probably no one reading this will know who John Royston is, so I will tell you.

He was my tenth grade English teacher, the man who turned me on to Shakespeare, plays, acting and writing.  He was jovial, inspiring, loved literature, and understood my bibliomania.  He was the one teacher who encouraged me to be a writer.

Recently he’d been on my mind and I decided it was time to try to find him, to thank him for his influence and to tell him that after a 30 year successful nursing career, I was finally doing what he and I both knew I’d always wanted to do–be a writer.  I knew he would be happy that I’d made it there.

I figured he’d be retired by now, but couldn’t find him anywhere I searched.  Then in an email to an old high school pal, I mentioned trying to find him and she told me she thought he had been a member of a theatre troupe in Port Washington on Long Island.

Tonight I finally stole a few minutes to Google with great anticipation: John Royston, Port Washington, NY.

And up came his obituary.  He is being buried tomorrow, having died earlier this week after ” a valiant fight with cancer.”

I waited too long to tell this fine man how much his teaching had meant to me and I am so sad about that.  I signed his condolence book and explained who I was to his wife, but it won’t be the same.

My message tonight to all of you out there is: don’t put off what you want to do, especially if it’s something that could warm the heart of someone else.

Sad in North Carolina tonight.  JR, Rest in Peace.

Did you Know? Thursday, Dec 4 2008 

The loveliest, most history-filled library might be the Bodleian in Oxford, with its Duke Humphreys ceiling in the Divinity School, and the round Radcliffe Camera:

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You actually have to take an oath to use it, not to bring in food or liquids, or to deface the books, or light fires with the pages.  Really.

BUT~

The highest library in the world is on the 60th floor of a luxury hotel in Shanghai.

It towers above street level at 7 feet, 6 inches, and is open to the public.

But you’d want to take the elevator: it’s 1,435 steps up the staircase!

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I wonder which languages the books are in?  It’s a Marriot, I believe, so there should be a huge selection.

Auntie M is a library fan, and these buildings hold special appeal to me.  (OK, maybe not this tall one, but you get my drift).  Giant repositories of all those delights that await me.  Stories and legends and lives to be explored.  Lose me in the stacks and I might never emerge.

For a great blurb about books you can smell and hold in your hand, check out the Screw Iowa website and read the Pub Crawl on Kindle~it will getcha going!

Auntie M will leave you tonight with these words from Eudora Welty:

I cannot remember a time when I was not in love with them–with the books themselves, cover and binding and the paper they were printed on, with their smsell and their weight and with their possession in my arms, captured and carried off to myself.

A woman after my own heart!  You rock, EW!

PD James Strikes Again Tuesday, Dec 2 2008 

Most of you know Auntie M adores Phyllis Dorothy James White, the former British Civil Servant who writes my favorite kind of mystery novel–full of the atmosphere of the setting, delving deeply into the psyche of the characters, and with a bloody good puzzle of a plot to round it all out.  It’s a pet peeve of mine that mysteries are not considered ‘literary’ when there are some fine novels and writers in this genre, as in this case.

Baroness James of Holland Park has done it again with The Private Patient, and I vow not to give any of the details or plot points away for her fans.  She continues to amaze me with the depth of her writing.  The book is a must-read for mystery fans, featuring her poetry-writing Commander, Adam Dalgliesh, and his team, and is set at a private clinic in Dorset.  A plastic surgeon’s clinic, which is ironic as Doc is a retired PlS, but I claim no influence there.

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I am fortunate to have a correspondence with her after we met when I interviewed her in 1999.  She wrote to me this fall that after a hip replacement operation she’d had a bout of heart failure, and spent the time in an Oxford rehab hospital where email and cell phones were forbidden, letting her finish this novel.  She shows no signs of slowing down at 88, health permitted, and I for one am very pleased.

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Doc showed me a recent article in the Wall St Journal about PDJ and the new book, and here’s what she has to say on the age old question of my pet peeve:

WSJ:  What do you think about the assumption that detective novels are sub-literature?

PDJ: I think at its best the detective story can be literature, and certainly in England, that old feeling that this is inferior has just disappeared.  I was chosen to be chair of the judges of the Booker prize, and I don’t think that would have happened if they thought I was dabbling in inferior literature.  And I don’t think I would be in the House of Lords if they thought I was dabbling in inferior literature.

Nuff said.  Great lady.  Read the book~

JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

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JoHanna Massey

"I tramp a perpetual journey." Walt Whitman

MiddleSisterReviews.com

(mid'-l sis'-tǝr) n. the reader's favorite sister

My train of thoughts on...

Smile! Don't look back in anger.

Make

make Your House a home

K.R. Morrison, Author

My author site--news and other stuff about books and things

Wicked Cozy Authors

Mysteries with a New England Accent

Some Days You Do ...

Writers & Writing, my own & other people's; movies, art, music & the search for a perfect flat white - the bits & pieces of a writing life.

Gaslight Crime

Author and reviewer of period crime fiction

Crimezine

#1 for Crime

Mellotone70Up

John Harvey on Books & Writing - his own & other people 's - Art, Music, Movies, & the elusive search for the perfect Flat White.

A thrilling Murder-Mystery...

...now being made into a radio drama

BOOK SHELF

"Tell me and I forget-Show me and I remember-Involve me and I learn"

Past Offences: Classic crime, thrillers and mystery book reviews

The best mystery and crime fiction (up to 1987): Book and movie reviews

forensics4fiction

Forensics demystified for the fiction writer

milliewonka

Just another WordPress.com site

Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet!

Saving the planet one day at a time.