SandDune Reads in 2017 - Part 4
This is a continuation of the topic SandDune Reads in 2017 - Part 3.
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Welcome everyone to my fourth thread of 2017, and to my sixth year doing the 75 Book Challenge. I'm a 56 year old accountant and, after spending most of my career in the City of London, I'm now the Finance Manager of a local charity which provides support to children and adults with learning disabilities. I've recently returned to full-time work after a number of years working part-time, so unfortunately I don't have as much time for LT as I used to. I live about thirty miles north of London with my husband (aka Mr SandDune), who is Assistant Principal at a local secondary school, and our 17 year old son (aka J), who attends the same school. There's also our 5 year old Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Daisy, and 13 year old cat Sweep, who have an uneasy relationship in which Sweep permanently has the upper hand. I'm originally from Wales rather than England, so I do have an interest in all things Welsh (although I can't speak the language - at least only a few words) and I tend to get huffy if people call me English rather than Welsh! I read mainly literary fiction, classics, science-fiction and fantasy and tend to avoid horror, detective fiction, chick-lit and thrillers. I belong to a RL book group which has been going since 2000, and I also try to keep up with some of the challenges going on on LT, with varying degrees of success.
All my family are avid readers, although Mr SandDune doesn't get time to read as much as he would like. J has inherited a love of reading science-fiction and fantasy from me and a love of reading history from Mr SandDune so our books are increasingly shared. I read hardbacks, paperbacks, on kindle and listen to audio books particularly when driving or walking the dog. Apart from reading I love travelling, eating out, and going to the theatre. Over the last few years I've been doing a part-time English Literature degree with the Open University, and this year I'm on my final course: English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen.
For this year's illustrations I've gone back to a general theme of dogs in art. This thread's picture is by George Stubbs (1724- 1806) and is named 'White Poodle in a Punt'. I'm not convinced the poodle was very happy to be in the punt!
Reading Plans for 2017:
Real Life Reading Group:
I usually do read most of my RL Reading Group choices unless I can't make the meeting date.
August: no meeting
Open University Reading:
These are for my OU course English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen. There's some poetry as well but that's provided in the course text books:
The Confessions Jean-Jaques Rousseau
TheTurkish Embassy Letters Lady Montagu Wortley
Arabian Nights Entertainments
British Author Challenge:
Last year I managed four books out of a total of twelve. I hope to do better this year.
March: Nell Dunn Up the Junction
April: Bruce Chatwin
May: Maria Edgeworth Castle Rackrent
July: D.E. Stevenson
August: Winifred Holtby
September: Cynan Jones The Dig
October: Jo Walton
November: Carol Ann Duffy
December: Neil Gaiman
Booker Prize Shortlist:
My RL Reading Group is meeting to discuss the 2016 Booker Shortlist in March. I've already read Hot Milk so five more to go:
ANZAC Bingo 2x12
I doubt very much if I'll get around to reading more than a handful of these but I've enjoyed planning out titles to meet the challenge:
1: Read a book about conflict or war The Narrow Road to the Deep North Richard Flanagan
2: Read a book with more than 500 pgs The Luminaries Eleanor Catton
3: Read an Aussie crime novel True History of the Kelly Gang Peter Carey
4: Read a book using word play in the title Tirra Lirra by the River Jessica Anderson
5: Read a book about exploration or a journey The Hut Builder Laurence Fearnley
6: Read a book that's been longlisted for the International DUBLIN Literary Award The World Without Us Mireille Juchau
7: Read a book that's part of a series Plumb Maurice Gee
8: Read a memoir/biography (can be fiction) To the Island Janet Frame
9: Read a book written under a pen name The Getting of Wisdom Henry Handel Richardson
10: Read a book with a musical plot The Chimes Anna Smaill
11: Read a book with water featured in title/cover Mister Pip Loyd Jones
12: Read a book with an immigrant protagonist The Secret River Kate Grenville
Books Read in 2017:
1. Autumn Ali Smith ****1/2
2. Gulliver's Travels Jonathan Swift ****
3. The Country Wife William Wycherley ***1/2
4. His Bloody Project Graeme MacRae Burnet ****1/2
5. Talking to the Dead Harry Bingham****
6. Tartuffe Molière **1/2
7. All That Man Is David Szalay ***
8. Just William Richmal Crompton *****
9. My Struggle: A Death in the Family ****
10. The Crystal Cave Mary Stewart ***
11. The Last September Elizabeth Bowen ****
12. Eileen Otessa Moshfegh ***1/2
13. The Sellout Paul Beatty ***
14. All of these People: A Memoir Fergal Keane ***
15. Sourcery Terry Pratchett ***1/2
16. 1984 George Orwell *****
17. Do Not Say We Have Nothing Madeleine Thien ***
18. Pride and Prejudice Jane Austen *****
19. Persausion Jane Austen *****
20. The House by the Dvina: A Russian Childhood **1/2
21. Evelina Frances Burney ***1/2
22. The Long Tomorrow Leigh Brackett ***
23. Underground Airlines Ben Winters ***
24. Austenland Shannon Hale **
25. Dzur Steven Brust ****
26. The Miniaturist Jessie Burton ***1/2
27. One Good Turn Kate Atkinson ****
28. Can't we Talk About Something More Pleasant Roz Chast ***1/2
29. Hitman Anders and the Meaning of It All Jonas Jonasson***
30. When Will There be Good News Kate Atkinson ****1/2
31. The Trees Ali Shaw ***
32. Nutshell Ian McEwan ***1/2
33. Started Early, Took My Dog Kate Atkinson ****
34. Bodies of Light Sarah Moss ****
35. The Outrun Amy Liptrot *****
36. The Last Days of New Paris China Miéville ****
37. Un Lun Dun China Mieville ****1/2
38. Iorich Steven Brust ****
39. The Old Ways Robert MacFarlane ***
40. Disobedience Naomi Alderman ****
41. Love Story, with Murders Harry Burnham ***1/2
42. The Outcasts of Time Ian Mortimer ****
43. Venetia Georgette Heyer ****
44. The Gustav Sonata Rose Tremain ***
45. How to Stop Time Matt Haig ***1/2
46. Can you Forgive Her? Anthony Trollope****
47. A history of Britain in 21 Women Jenni Murray ***
48. The Ballad of Peckham Rye Muriel Spark ***1/2
49. Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders *****
50. The Fifth Season N.K. Jemisin ****
51. The Stone Sky N.K. Jemisin***1/2
52. The Obelisk Gate N.K. Jemisin ***1/2
53. Verdigris Deep Frances Hardinge ***
54. Through the Language Glass Guy Deutscher *****
55. Exit West Mohsin Hamid ***1/2
56. Temeraire Naomi Novik ***
57. Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk Kathleen Rooney ****1/2
58. Just William - More William Richmal Crompton ***1/2
59. Blackberry Wine Joanne Harris ***
60. This Boy Alan Johnson
61. The Hanging Tree Ben Aaronovitch ****
62. The Strange Death of Fiona Griffiths Harry Bingham ****
Favourite Books from 2016:
The Essex Serpent Sarah Perry
Gilead Marilynne Robinson
The Last Chronicle of Barsetshire Anthony Trollope
Uprooted Naomi Novik
Fifteen Dogs Andre Alexis
City of Stairs Robert Jackson Bennett
Cuckoo Song Frances Hardinge
Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail Cheryl Strayed
The Shepherd's Life: A Tale of the Lake District James Rebanks
I've been very remiss at posting on my thread for the last few weeks but quite a lot has been happening. Firstly, as Facebook friends will know, I received my final results for my degree and was awarded a First Class Honours degree in English Literature. So I'm very excited about that. I've been studying for the degree for so long that it seems strange to have finally finished!
Secondly, we were away for the weekend last weekend (just the two of us as J was in Croatia) and called into Salisbury on the way down to Dorset. I felt almost as proud of myself for climbing up the tower of Salisbury Cathedral without (a) keeling over in a breathless heap halfway up or (b) having a panic attack because it was too far down!
Here is the inside of the cathedral with its beautiful font cum fountain: the water was so still and absolutely level that everything around it was perfectly reflected.
And her is the view from the top:
I've wanted to go up Salisbury Cathedral Tower ever since reading The Spire, and as in the book the cathedral is built on waterlogged river gravel with foundations only three feet deep!
Happy new thread, Rhian!
Nice topper, looking at the poodle's tail he doesn't mind being there.
The cathedral photos are breathtaking. Congratulations on your degree! That's quite an accomplishment, and clearly all of your hard work paid off.
Happy new thread, Rhian!
Beautiful photos. If that's true about the foundations, I'm surprised the cathedral is still standing after all these centuries.
>6 Ameise1: Thanks Barbara!
>7 FAMeulstee: Maybe you're right, Anita! We go punting from time to time and the thought of Daisy in a punt is deeply worrying! I think we'd last a maximum of five minutes before we all ended up in the water.
>8 lauralkeet: Laura, I think Salisbury is one of the most lovely cathedrals. It was all built within a relatively short period of time (apart from the spire which was added later) and so it's very homogeneous in terms of style, and the cathedral close which surrounds it is lovely as well. We didn't have as much time to look around as we would have liked, as the tour of the roof and tower took around two hours and we needed to get on to our B&B, but we'd like to go back in the not too distant future.
>9 humouress: If you look at the columns supporting the tower you can see them bending under the weight of the spire, but apparently they've been doing that for the last five hundred years at least, and it's all pretty stable.
Something that has been irritating over the last week is that Photobucket has blocked my photos on LT because it constitutes third-party hosting. Which is true, as I only use Photobucket to post photos to LT but I hadn't realised that you weren't allowed to do that. For the photos above I reverted to my old method of doing my photos on the computer and then importing them into the LT gallery, but I immediately remembered why I'd stopped doing that. The photos are forever being imported sideways: didn't used to happen but ever since Windows 8 and 10 it's been a pain. I can add photos to my gallery using my iPad, but I've never worked out how to copy the photo details from the photos in the gallery to my thread. Anyone know how to do this?
Rhian, congratulations on your degree result! What a superb achievement.
And happy new thread :-)
Happy new thread, Rhian!
I use flickr for my photos and have never had a problem moving them from there to here. I've never really been able to figure out the gallery here on LT...
>11 SandDune: Rhian, don't get me started on Photobucket's awful change in policy. So moving on, I've had the sideways photo problem as well when uploading from my iPhone. I have found that if I edit the photo on my phone, rotate it, then rotate back, and save, then it uploads to LT with no issues. Not sure if that will work for you. But you asked about how to get the photo's URL from your member gallery. First you need to click on the photo so you are viewing only that photo, not the entire gallery. In Windows you can then right-click on the image and copy the address. On iPad/iPhone, press on the image and a menu should pop up allowing you to open the image in a new tab. Once you've done that, the URL will appear in the address bar of your browser (it should end in ".jpg"). Copy that to use in your thread. Hope this isn't too confusing!
>10 SandDune: For a few years I had a canoe and Chimay loved to go with me:
Oh, yes; I'm sorry, I meant to congratulate you on your first class. Very well done!
Happy new thread!
I usually upload photos that have already been posted on either facebook (use the link from the photo) or flickr.
First of all, congratulations on your First Class Honours degree! What a wonderful achievement, no matter how long it took. Well done you!
Several LTers have been bitten by Photobucket's new policy, which was very poorly implemented with no advance notice. I read an article in a tech magazine that referred to it as Photobucket holding people's photos hostage, which is not a good look for any company.
As far as copying from your LT gallery when you are on an iPad, if you are on the individual photo page in your gallery, you can press and hold on the photo until a dialog comes up asking if you want to Save Image or Copy Image (I think that's the wording; I'm at work and don't have my iPad with me). If you choose Copy, it saves the URL and you can paste it into your (img src="") HTML coding. At least, I think that works. Let me know if I've got it wrong and I can check again when I'm back home tonight.
And finally, beautiful photos! Well done climbing all the way to the top.
>13 Ameise1: >14 scaifea: >15 lauralkeet: >19 ChelleBearss: >20 rosalita: >22 Thanks for the advice everyone. After much experimentation I'm fine at getting the photos into the gallery and then into my thread using my iPad.. What I can't do is get them from Flickr directly onto my thread. I can get as far as finding the code to embed in Flickr, but I can't copy it using safari on my iPad. Each time I try I only manage to copy a portion of it. I'm sure it would work fine on the PC, but I rarely use my PC so that's what I'm trying to avoid.
Anyway, here are some more photos from our weekend, this time from a sculpture park:
I know you said to ignore it ... :-) ... but from Flickr you need to use the Embed code. That works well for me.
>16 FAMeulstee: That looks very relaxing. I'm sure it's fine if your dog will sit still, but Daisy is quite a bouncy dog when she is excited ....
>12 susanj67: >17 humouress: Thanks for the congratulations.
>18 drneutron: Thanks for dropping by Jim.
I hadn't realised that the Photobucket problem was a result of a policy change. I have very few photos on Photobucket, I really only use it to upload photos to LT, and they are all saved elsewhere as well, but it is irritating. I can't imagine how annoying it must be for people who have thousands of photos — I doubt if I've got a hundred.
Happy new thread, Rhian.
Your Salisbury photos are lovely - good luck sorting the photos. I am not technologically inclined so actually post few.
Congratulations on your degree! What will you do with all your spare time? :)
"I received my final results for my degree and was awarded a First Class Honours degree in English Literature."
I did indeed see this on FB but I will add another hearty CONGRATULATIONS here!!!! Nicely done, Rhian!
Happy New Thread (and I agree that the poodle looks like he'd rather be curled up in front of a nice fire). But maybe that is just his resting face. :-)
Love all the photos!
Pet news today. We have just had the news that Sweep has been diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, apparently very common in older cats (she must be around 14 now). The vet is quite hopeful about treatment: we are starting out on a liquid treatment and we will see how she gets on with that. Or more precisely, we will see whether we manage to get any of it into her mouth. I'm more hopeful about it than getting her to swallow tablets, but we will see. The easiest option would be a special diet, but that involves making sure that she doesn't ever eat anything else, and as she is getting very picky about what she eats, I wasn't sure how that would work. We have to take her back in three weeks time for further blood tests to see how she has responded.
>24 BLBera: It does definitely seem that I have a lot more time at the moment. At the moment I'm just enjoying my new found freedom but I think I will want to be doing something a bit more come the autumn. I've been vaguely thinking about trying to improve my French - I do like to be doing something!
>25 EBT1002: Thanks for the congratulations Ellen!
>26 SandDune: Rhian, we've had 6 cats during my adult/married life and 4 developed hyperthyroidism in their senior years. It is indeed quite common in older cats. The liquid medication is the best thing ever invented. In years past our cats had to take a pill twice a day so this time around when the vet offered me liquid I jumped at the chance. It's been easy to administer since I do it at feeding time. Regular bloodwork is important because there is no cure, you're just trying to keep their levels in balance. The first blood test will validate this initial dosage is correct, and then having Sweep checked regularly allows the dosage to be adjusted if necessary.
As kitty diseases go, it's a manageable one. I hope the liquid meds work well for you.
>29 lauralkeet: we've had 6 cats during my adult/married life and 4 developed hyperthyroidism in their senior years We've had three cats over our married life - only ever one at a time - but Sweep is the first one we've had that with that disease. Edward, our first cat, died about the same age Sweep is now, 14, and had kidney disease. We never did find out what was wrong with Ruby, as she went downhill very quickly over a period of days and died before the vets had finished doing their tests. They suspected pancreatitis, but never got a definitive diagnosis. But the vets seem very positive about being able to keep it under control. They were previously a little worried that she might be in danger of developing diabetes, but her blood sugar levels haven't got any worse. She was on special diabetic food but she's been refusing point blank to eat it and so we've reverted to giving her pouches of moist cat food over the last couple of weeks. The vet's agreed that it's more important that she eats something and Sweep seems very happy about the new feeding regime!
>30 SandDune: one of our non-thyroid cats had kidney disease, and required subcutaneous fluids 2x/week during his last 18-24 mos. By comparison, treating hyperthyroidism is like a walk in the park.
Happy New Thread, Rhian.
my final course: English Literature from Shakespeare to Austen. I'd love to take a course like that. Congratulations on your First Class Honours degree in English Literature! A labor of love, I can tell.
We loved Salisbury Cathedral and the surrounding area when we went many years ago. I'd like to go back. Thanks for posting the photos.
>31 lauralkeet: I don't know if it's just my perception but the lifespan of cats seems to have increased enormously over my lifetime. Perhaps I don't mean lifespan specifically, it's probably obvious that cats will live longer when veterinary care is so much better, but the age at which cats are considered 'very old' seems to have increased a lot. Fourteen would have seemed a huge age for a cat to me at one stage but a lot of people I've know these days have had cats that have lived to a much greater age. It's difficult to find evidence for this for the UK, as a lot of the information on the internet is US based and is more geared to the indoor-outdoor cat argument. I must remember to ask the vet when I go in next. I've read something somewhere about cat food being deficient in various nutrients until relatively recently, but can't find the reference now.
The lifespan of dogs doesn't seem to have changed in the same way - a dog seems to get old at the same age as they did when I was a child, although presumably a lot more dogs reach that age.
>34 SandDune: your comment on feline lifespans is interesting, Rhian. I wonder if that's the case, you'll have to let us know if you learn anything more about it.
Both of my non-purebred rescue dogs, Chesapeake Bay and Border Collie, lived to be 16, a lot longer than our previous dogs.
Awhile back online, The New York Times Magazine had a strange article, "The Mystery of the Wasting House-Cats,"
which I found after doing a Search on feline hyperthyroidism.
My cat is being treated for this with METHIMAZOLE via a pen used to release medication into alternate ears.
She enjoys this!
She is also 16.
Congratulations on your First Class Honours degree!
>26 SandDune: My kitty Imsai was diagnosed with hyperthyroidism when she was 16. I hope you have success with Sweep’s meds. If they had a liquid option at the time I never heard about it (1997), and I could never get the pills down her throat, no matter what I tried. She gradually faded away and wandered off one day into the woods. So far none of my other 5 kitties had (3 of them) or has (2 of them) hyperthyroidism. Kitty William is 18 and Inara Starbuck is 10.
>35 lauralkeet: I think it was to do with cat food not containing taurine up until the 1980s, and, as taurine is something that cats need, the health of cats would have been impaired. I suppose that cats which hunted would have topped up their taurine levels, but others might have lived for less long than they would otherwise have done.
I wonder as well, if some of the difference is that people nowadays are just more likely to pay out for treatment for their cats. My parents always had cats when I was a child and were fond of animals generally but I can't help feeling that if they had had an older cat who was losing weight in the 1960's or 70's they'd have just assumed it was 'old age' and never considered taking the animal to the vet.
>36 m.belljackson: I looked up that article and it was quite interesting, although worrying. It did seem to agree that cats are living longer as well. The vet mentioned the radioactive treatment as probably the last resort: apparently it is expensive which I can well believe. A colleague at work had the same thing done and I remember that her children had to move out of her house for several weeks after the treatment so that they weren't exposed to radioactivity!
>37 karenmarie: The liquid is working OK so far. We are certainly getting most of it in her. J did get a bit punctured yesterday when she put her claws out when he was holding her ... I had mentioned that I thought he might be better putting a sweater over his t-shirt but 17 year olds of course know best! I very rarely manage to get her to swallow tablets. By the way, I do like your cats' names!
>32 jnwelch: We hadn't been to Salisbury for goodness knows how long, possibly before we were married. It's a little bit far for a day trip (well in British eyes anyway ... American LT's would probably think it was fine) and when we go away for longer we usually go further afield to Cornwall or Devon. So it's a little bit in-between. I'd have liked to have a lot longer to look around more thoroughly.
>33 Kassilem: Thanks!
When I got home today Mr SandDune was engaging in speculation as to what the man across the road does. He's been trying to work it out for some time and it is clearly annoying him that he doesn't know. At the moment, he has decided on professional footballer. I don't want to give anyone the impression that we live in a fancy neighbourhood as we don't, but it is a large house that they are living in for a young couple with four young children and the wife at home, and they have some pretty expensive cars in the drive. There seemed to be a children's party there this afternoon and all their friends (also in their twenties) were driving expensive BMW's as well. The usual method of making money where we live is to work in the City, but his working hours seem much too erratic for that. So Mr SandDune is banking on lower league footballer. I suggested drug dealer but Mr SandDune says all drug dealers live at home with their mothers ... where he gets that piece of information from is a mystery!
>38 SandDune: people nowadays are just more likely to pay out for treatment for their cats.
I think this is a big factor, and for dogs as well. When I was a kid, we took our dogs to the vet if they were obviously in distress or injured but otherwise they were kind of on their own. And even if they had gotten diagnosed with, say, cancer, I'm not sure my mom would have thought treating chronic illness in a pet was worth the money and effort; I suspect she would have been more likely to have them euthanized instead.
>40 SandDune: It's so much fun to try to solve neighbor mysteries, so I'm with Mr SandDune on this one. Could it also be some sort of high-tech software developing gig that would entail working from home a lot? Perhaps he's invented some ridiculously popular Internet game or something!
Sending healing vibes for Sweep, Rhian. Our Abby had radioactive iodine treatment for her thyroid about 9 years ago. It worked beautifully but she was only about 7 years old at the time. Now she is 16 and doing pretty well. I agree that it seems like the life span has, overall, improved and I'm sure that has to do with our willingness to spend money on treatment, special food, and other advances in veterinary science. Abby is on special food for her nascent kidney disease but also we give her special food to ease her occasional nausea. Mostly she seems to be doing pretty well but I know we're in the very senior years.
>40 SandDune: Fascinating (and a bit hilarious).
>41 rosalita: I think my parents would have been the same.
That's possible, but he doesn't seem very geeky! I'd forgotten to mention that Mr SandDune also had evidence that he seems unusually fit! A few weeks ago the front door blew shut with only the baby inside and they came around to borrow ladders so he could get in through the upstairs bathroom window. Apparently, he negotiated climbing through the window, which was awkward to get into from the ladder, very easily.
>43 SandDune: OK, fit/athletic definitely points away from geek! Are there other professional sports besides football in the UK? Perhaps he's a tennis pro. I think Mr SandDune needs to come up with a list of subtle questions to have ready ask if they happen to be out in the yard at the same time to help narrow it down. :-)
>42 EBT1002: Sweep actually seems much better now that she is off her special food. She was on a diabetic diet, but has now been transferred to normal varied moist food pouches, which she is eating very enthusiastically.
>44 rosalita: I think he's decided to ask him outright - and for the South-East of England that's a very radical thing to do! I don't think he's heavily built enough for a rugby player and a successful tennis player who was making money would presumably be away more. But Mr SandDune estimates the value of the two cars on the drive as about £90,000, so he's clearly making a fair bit of money at something for someone who looks to be in his twenties!
>46 SandDune: Ha, I was thinking that I would never get up the nerve to ask outright, so good for Mr SandDune! And please report back once the mystery has been solved.
Oh! I just thought of another possibility — maybe he's a cat burglar? That would account for the money (from his heists) and the fitness (needed for climbing into second-story windows).
Just as scarey as the treatments were the author's ideas on what - in addition to cats living longer -
could cause such a dramatic increase: household furniture and clothing made with flame retardants
as well as other household chemicals, etc.
That sounds like the tip of the iceberg given all the air, water, soil, and food pollutants we and our
cats absorb every day.
>47 rosalita: Well, there've never been any midnight raids by the police so maybe we ought to discount the drug dealer and cat burglar ideas ...
>48 m.belljackson: It is very worrying - there's such a lot of stuff that we're exposed to that our parents and grandparents just weren't, or at least not in such concentrations.
>49 EBT1002: To be honest, because Sweep had been gradually getting more and more fussy about her food I hadn't noticed that she'd been getting more and more unsettled as well. In retrospect, she wasn't getting enough to eat. I mean, she had food, but she refused to eat enough of it. She seems so much more content on her new regime, even though she's not so keen on having her medicine.
>50 lauralkeet: Will do.
It was raining today so we finally got around to sorting out our main food cupboard, which has seemed unusually full and disorganised for ages. What I want to know is, why did I feel the need to buy six different packets of creamed coconut? Or macaroni for that matter, five 1kg bags of macaroni? I only use macaroni to make macaroni cheese about once a month, that amount would keep us going until about May next year.
I have been doing some reading as well, finally finished Can You Forgive Her? which I've been listening to on Audible for some time. It took me a little while to get into it, but eventually I really enjoyed this one one.
>52 SandDune: Typical. At our house we're either out of something or we have more than we'd need for the next year. Like the numerous times we've bought a new packet of red lentils for the one dish we use it in, only to realise there was one unopened and one half-empty packet still in the cupboard.
I want those clear glass/plastic containers with airtight lids so you can easily see hos much is left of everything. Buying those for the whole kitchen/all cupboards is a bit pricey though.
>52 SandDune: we are cleaning out our house in preparation for a move in the autumn, so I know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Our kitchen was full of useless stuff, from food to just odds & ends that found there way into the cabinets somehow.
>38 SandDune: Thanks re our kitty names. I think Sweep's a great name, too. Kitty William got his name because he was a stray kitty. We posted notices at all the vets and checked with the shelters in the surrounding towns but no luck. Our 9 year old daughter then gave him a middle name. She chose her dad's middle name - William. Inara Starbuck is after Firefly's Inara the 'companion' and Starbuck from Battlestar Galactica, the 2nd iteration with a female Starbuck.
>52 SandDune: I'm convinced things just wander in by themselves, because I would never buy all that redundant food! Of course let's not mention the 20-lb bag of basmati rice we just got at Costco. I still need to repackage it in baggies and put most of it in the freezer.
I'm curious about your neighbor's occupation, too!
Hi Rhian - I'm enjoying the speculation about your neighbor's occupation. Fitness guru?
I'm glad Sweep seems to be improving.
I've been cleaning kitchen cupboards after painting, and I am encountering the same thing -- many packets of quinoa, for example. Also, when I cleaned the cabinet with containers, I found about twice as many tops as containers.
>56 BLBera: oh, so YOU'RE the one who stole my tops eh? Because I have way more containers than tops. Hmm.
I'm intrigued now as well. Wondering what his manager would have made of him climbing a ladder if he's on a sports contract! Didn't some footballer manage to get injured for a whole season playing with his kid?
More importantly, congrats on the degree. OU is such a commitment, to keep that standard throughout is beyond impressive.
>53 PawsforThought:. I keep buying those sort of containers, but I don't know where they all end up as I never have one when I want one!
>54 lauralkeet: I'm usually pretty good at keeping on top of stuff but things like that have got a bit out of hand over the last few months while I've been finishing off my degree.
>55 karenmarie: Rice is one thing I do buy in a huge bag but we do get through huge quantities of the stuff. Sweep wasn't our choice for a name, we inherited it from her previous owners (her sister's name was Sooty, which will make sense to British LT'ers of a certain age).
>56 BLBera: I only found two packets of quinoa ...
>59 SandDune: Maybe it's the same things with the containers as with hair pins - they seemingly disappear into thin air the moment you take your eyes off them.
>5 SandDune: belated congratulations on such a fine pass for your degree Rhian.
>59 SandDune: which will make sense to British LT'ers of a certain age ...
Yes, Sooty and Sweep!!! I initially thought of Dougal as a name for the cat who became Fergus (the Magic Roundabout), but then -- Dougal was a dog, after all! And the vets would have mispronounced it all the time here -- DUG-all instead of DOOG-all.
Belated congrats on your first!! That's brilliant, and richly deserved after all your hard work.
Please do tell us what your neighbor does. My theory is that he owns and runs a chain of fitness centers. *grin*
Cassie has been diagnosed with inflammatory bowel disease, and an outside chance that it's early-stage lymphoma, so I'm now running two separate diets in the household: one a rigid diet for her of prescription food that is single protein (duck, venison, rabbit and even allegedly kangaroo??), and the normal diet for Molly and Fergus (because I can't afford to spend $2.75 a can for food for everyone, when normal food is about 60 cents, and the others can eat it. I'm getting it down to a routine. I also have to pop prednisone (steroid) into her mouth twice a day, and after two weeks, she is finally realizing that she can fight back/resist (Tigger realized this instantly...) The good news is that the food is palatable and in combination with the steroids, I think Cassie is regaining some of her lost weight, very slowly. It's still going to be a long haul, and I'll be chained to the house as my cat sitter has never even seen Cassie -- she flees and vanishes when anyone but me enters the house, so no one else will be able to give her the meds. I can skip one dose, but that's it. Cassie turns 13 this week, and Molly will be 15 at the end of the month. Definitely seniors, and thankfully Molly is just fine. She's lying beside me as I type, waiting for me to scratch her tummy, and purring.
Good luck with Sweep!!!
>63 SandDune: passed me by that Sooty was a dog...
Yes, well, I'd seen Sweep before and would have sworn (s)he was a cat. I didn't realize my mistake until I went hunting for those photos!
>64 Chatterbox: oh my, good luck with Cassie. That's quite a regimen although it seems like you have it well in hand.
Sorry to announce that my colleague's husband has passed away. He was only in his mid to late sixties, no age at all really. It seemed incredibly quick between him first going to the doctor (sometime in May I think), to having the cancer diagnosed, to being told that there was absolutely nothing that could be done. I do wonder if had had earlier symptoms that he ignored: apparently he hated to go to the doctor and could be quite stubborn about that sort of thing. I do hope that she will cope on her own.
>64 Chatterbox: It never occurred to me that there were two ways of pronouncing Dougal! DUG-all doesn't have quite the same ring to it. Best wishes to Cassie - hopefully it is the inflammatory bowel disease rather than anything more serious. We are gradually getting the hang of giving Sweep her medicine but I wouldn't like to try it on my own. One of us wraps her up in a towel (particularly her front claws) while the other squirts it in her mouth. I think most of its's going in...
>65 charl08: Apparently Su was a panda.
>66 lauralkeet: I think I had a vague idea about a cat as well, although looking at those ears it doesn't seem very likely...
I'm very sorry to hear about your coworker's husband. That was really quick, I could imagine she is still be reeling from the initial diagnosis and now has much more to cope with. Very sad.
Lots of books coming into the house at the moment, but none of them are mine unfortunately. J is doing his extended essay on the American civil war and so we are now surrounded by books on this topic. Some of them are fiction books though, and as he's ordered the latest book by Robert Jackson Bennett and something by Italo Calvino so I'm looking forward to reading them when he's finished.
So sorry to hear about your colleague's husband, Rhian.
Books coming into the house is a good thing, correct? When does J make his uni selection?
>71 BLBera: I may have said this before so apologies if I'm repeating myself:
The system in the UK is that college applications are done centrally by the UCAS system (I have no idea what that stands for). Students choose five potential universities (the stage he is at now) and put in one application centrally between October and January (I think). Sooner is supposed to be better and so his school wants their students to get the applications in by end October this year. The five universities then come back with offers (or not as the case may be) of the specific grades at which they will accept the student. Different universities have different criteria for what they're looking for, but it's usually heavily weighted to the students predicted grades. The student then accepts a first choice offer and a fall-back offer (usually with lower grade requirements). Then we wait to see what the student actually gets in their end of year exams - that will be July 2018. If the student gets the right grades they will go to their first choice university, if they miss their grades by a small margin then they may get offered a place anyway, but not guaranteed. If they miss the grades for their second choice as well they will go into a clearing system which aims to match students with available courses.
At the moment J is choosing his five choices - he has Leeds, Manchester, and Bristol ticked off. Now he is choosing between York, Durham and Birmingham. All the universities publish what their normal grade offers are for each course, so it's a good idea to choose one for a first choice which is about the same as the student's predicted grade, and one for second choice which is a few points lower. Luckily J's predicted grades are quite high and so he's got a fairly open choice.
46. Can You Forgive Her? Anthony Trollope ****1/2
Alice Vavasor has broken one engagement in her life, that to her slightly disreputable cousin George, and now in her mid-twenties is engaged to the much more respectable John Grey. But all is not right in her engagement and while she loves John Grey she cannot imagine her future life in the flat fenland that surround Ely. And when Alice decides to take a tour to Switzerland with her cousin Kate, accompanied by Kate's brother the disreputable George, she has the opportunity to reconsider her decision. Kate is determined that her cousin and best friend should marry her brother, and Alice is swayed by George's ambition to become a Member of Parliament, a very different aspiration from the quiet country life she anticipates with John Grey. But in Victorian England, for a woman to break an engagement once is a serious business: to do so twice is to risk being called a jilt ...
This is much more than the story of Alice Vavasor and her suitors. Alice's mother was from an aristocratic family and despite Alice having avoided them for most of her life she is gradually drawn into their circle via her cousin Lady Glendora Palliser, recently (and unhappily) married against her will to Plantagenet Palliser, a rising politician. And then there is Alice's aunt Mrs Greenow, a rich widow who is juggling her two suitors much more skilfully than Alice manages. Altogether it's a rich and complex picture of the social mores and political life of mid-Victorian Britain.
It took me a little while longer to get into this book, than it had done with the Barsetshire novels, but eventually I loved it. I'll be going on to read the rest of the Palliser novels without too much delay.
Thanks for the explanation, Rhian. It's quite different from our system. Does he have a first choice yet?
>73 SandDune: Enjoyed your review of the Trollope, Rhian. I have it on the shelves but am struggling for reading mojo just now.
Have a lovely weekend.
*lurking along and enjoying the conversation*
... 'but Mr SandDune says all drug dealers live at home with their mothers ... where he gets that piece of information from is a mystery!' *still giggling*
>74 lauralkeet: I've found that already. Interesting to see what other people thought about it. I think I'd share Alice's feelings about spending my life completely in the fenland around Ely (although Ely itself is lovely) as I've always struggled with really flat places. But while Mr Grey is less romantic than many nineteenth century love interests, i can't help feeling that he'd definitely make a good husband, certainly in the context of the period in which they were living.
Hope J is having fun making the choices.
Your review of the Trollope is tempting : I've not had much luck with Victorian novels (I think it's the wordy style) but the themes sound fascinating.
Happy Sunday, Rhian. Going to a university in the UK is completely different to our system.
Congratulations on graduation, and with First Class Honors as well! How awesome!
I've been working through the Barsetshire novels slowly, and really enjoying them. I recently gave the first three to my mother and I couldn't believe she hadn't read them. Usually she's way ahead of me in that time period/genre.
I thought I'd share a few photos that I got copies of at the weekend from my sister. They're all of me around 1962-3.
I think this one must be around 1962. The dog was our Welsh terrier Siân. Very appropriately I'm on a sand dune.
Two here on the beach:
Here we are outside my Dad's grocers shop. I'm sitting on the bonnet of my sister's boyfriend's car. I remember really liking that boyfriend and being very disappointed when she took up with her future husband! This one in particular looks so long ago!
>75 BLBera: Of the ones he's seen so far he prefers Manchester. Apparently, Birmingham has now been discarded so we're going to visit Durham and York. It's a very long drive to Durham!
>76 PaulCranswick: Paul, I think you think a fair amount of mojo for the Trollope - it's a fairly long book!
>77 humouress: Hi Nina!
>79 charl08: I've always liked Victorian novels, but you do have to make time for them. I think I've read such a lot of them that I'm used to the wordiness.
Love the photos, Rhian!
Well, you are getting to know all of GB doing the college tours.
The photos are great, Rhian. I could see you easily falling off that old car with the boyfriend trying to be cool and looking the other way!
Oh, I love the old photos! The one of you and your dog is adorable. How do you pronounce Siân's name?
Re Durham - maybe you've come across the old library at Palace Green? If not definitely worth a look, if you can persuade your prospective possible Dunelmer...
>82 SandDune: Lovely pictures, Rhian, I love the last one with you sitting so proud on the car. Your sister must be much older than you.
->84 BLBera: It does feel a bit like a UK tour! I won't be doing Durham though, as I've got a work conference on the Thursday and Friday and logistically it would be difficult, so Mr SndDune will be doing that visit.
>85 PaulCranswick: Well, apparently he was very good with young children, so not that cool!
>86 rosalita: Siân is pronounced like "sharn". When I was at school it was probably the most popular girls name in my year group. Welsh terriers are something of a tradition in my family: we had Siân, who lived until I was about eight, then my Aunt had one (also called Siân), and then later on my sister had one too. They are nice little dogs, but not a breed that you often see.
>87 Caroline_McElwee: I was hoping to take copies of quite a few of my sister's photos but I was foiled by the lack of wifi and good 3G connection in my Mum's flat. I'll have to get the rest when we next go to my sister's house.
>88 charl08: That looks lovely. Unfortunately, it won't be me taking him to Durham ...
>89 FAMeulstee: My sister is fourteen years older than me, so she was probably seventeen or eighteen when the photo was taken, with her boyfriend being a similar age.
>90 SandDune: It's a lovely name, and she was a cute dog. I don't think I'd ever heard of Welsh terriers — the only breed that comes immediately to mind in relation to Wales is the Welsh Corgi, I think?
Also cast a vote of confidence for Durham. It also has the added advantage of being one of the centres for passport issuance in the UK as well as being a lovely city.
>91 rosalita: Welsh terriers are not a common breed these days, although there seemed to be a fair few about in South Wales when I was a child. One famous owner of one was JFK who apparently had one when he was in the White House:
Corgis are not a popular breed in the U.K. either. The Cardigan corgi are on the Kennel Club's 'At Risk' list with less than 300 puppies born each year, and the Pembroke corgi (the sort the Queen has) is on the 'Watch' list. Apparently they are viewed here as 'old people's dogs' maybe because of their royal connection. Welsh terriers are on the 'Watch' list as well.
>93 SandDune: Thank you for sending me down that rabbit hole into the lives of presidential pets. Charlie Kennedy was a handsome fellow, indeed.
I didn't realize corgis were not so popular in the U.K. They are hugely popular on Twitter, at least among the people I follow, who are forever posting video clips of corgi races at various sporting and other events. Now I'm reminded that there was an absolutely fascinating article in Vanity Fair a while back about the Queen and her love of corgis.
Live and learn - I looked up Welsh Terrier, saw that it looked like what to me was an Airedale, then looked up Airedales, and learned that they're really Airedale terriers!
Lovely photos, thanks for sharing.
>92 PaulCranswick: I think I've only ever been to Durham once in my life when I was quite young, and I don't remember a lot about it to be honest.
>94 rosalita: Funnily enough we did see two young corgis at the weekend when we were out with Daisy, and both me and Mr SandDune commented that we hadn't seen a corgi in a very long time.
>95 karenmarie: That is exactly what Welsh terriers are like - almost exactly like very small Airedales. And I mean very small, they are probably about a third of the size. I remember quite clearly the first time I saw an Airedale, at age maybe six or seven, and being astounded a how a Welsh terrier could have got so big ...
47. A History of Britain in 21 Women Jenni Murray ***
I saw this reviewed on Susan's thread and thought it looked interesting. Not exactly a history of Britain as such, but the biographies of 21 women who challenged the assumptions of their time. Jenni Murray, a veteran broadcaster on Radio 4's 'Woman's Hour', has chosen a very personal list, starting with Boadicea.
Here is the full list:
2. Queen Elizabeth I
3. Aphra Behn
4. Caroline Herschel
5. Fanny Burney
6. Mary Wollstonecraft
7. Jane Austen
8. Mary Somerville
9. Mary Seacole
10. Ada Lovelace
11. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
12. Millicent Garrett Fawcett
13. Emmeline Pankhurst
14. Ethel Smyth
15. Constance Markievicz
16. Gwen John
17. Nancy Astor
18. Barbara Castle
19. Margaret Thatcher
20. Mary Quant
21. Nicola Sturgeon
It's an interesting list, and I think almost all of them deserve their place. I'm not sure about the inclusion of Nicola Sturgeon: I think only time will tell if she is an influential figure or someone who'll be forgotten about in twenty years time. I found that the vignettes of each woman fell into two main categories: some I knew a lot about (Elizabeth I, Jane Austen, Mary Seacole, Margaret Thatcher for instance) and there wasn't much new information provided for those. Others I knew little about and there the biographies were brief but almost invariably interesting.
>97 SandDune: It does sound interesting. Nice to see writers on the list.
>97 SandDune: I bought it too, after seeing that review Rhian. Glad it gets your thumbs up.
In consultation with J I've prepared my own list of who I would have included for my 21 women if I'd written this book. My general criteria for inclusion is that of a woman battling against the status quo, although it doesn't hold true for all of them. Any thoughts?
2. Æfelflæd, Lady of Mercia
3. Aphra Behn
4. Lady Mary Montagu Wortley
5. Caroline Herschel
6. Elizabeth Fry
7. Mary Wollstonecroft
8. Jane Austen
9. Mary Somerville
10. Florence Nightingale
11. Ada Lovelace
12. George Eliot
13. Elizabeth Garrett Anderson
14. Millicent Garrett Fawcett
15. Emmeline Pankhurst
16. Octavia Hill
17. Virginia Woolf
18. Gertrude Bell
19. Elizabeth David
20. Barbara Castle
21. Rosalind Franklin
22. Margaret Thatcher
I was sorry to remove Mary Seacole as she was a worthy inclusion, but Florence Nightingale had the longer lasting legacy. Mary Quant's been replaced by Elizabeth David (food more important than clothes) and I had to have George Eliot and Virginia Woolf). I thought about including Marie Stopes, Tanni Grey-Thompson, Beatrix Potter and Eleanor of Aquitaine but they didn't quite make it. I've got 22 women as I couldn't bring myself to leave anyone out to include Margaret Thatcher ...
>100 SandDune: I'm very happy to see you add Rosalind Franklin to your list. I missed her on the "original" one. And Gertrude Bell!
>101 PawsforThought: I heard something on the radio about Gertrude Bell recently – she sounded fascinating.
The Ballad of Peckham Rye Muriel Spark ***1/2
This short novella length book is the fourth by Muriel Spark that I have read, and they have all been well worth reading.
In the south London district of Peckham, seventeen year old Dixie is getting married to Humphrey Place, but when Humphrey should be saying 'I do' he very clearly says 'I don't' and walks out of the church. It soon becomes apparent that this turn of events is blamed by most people on newcomer Dougal Douglas (or is it Douglas Dougal), who has recently arrived in Peckham from Scotland. Dougal accepts his first job after leaving university in the textile firm of Meadows, Meade & Grindley when the managing director, Mr Druce, feels that they need to bring in more modern ways, and a 'university man' will help them sort out their absenteeism problem. And so Dougal embarks on his investigation into the motivations of the work force in particular, and the wider population of Peckham in general: the lives of several of its inhabitants will never be the same again.
As in two of the other books I've read so far there is an uncertainty about what is actually going on. Is Dougal the devil (he certainly insists that people should feel the bumps on his head left by his 'horns') or is he just an ordinary man who leaves chaos behind him? I enjoyed the story, but also very much enjoyed the period feel of the book, depicting as it does the London of around 1960. A London with typing pools, and seventeen year old girls saving up to get married, and such minute nuances of class between the girls who work in the office and those who work on the factory floor.
>100 SandDune: Interesting list, Rhian.
As you probably know I am not much of a royalist but it does surprise me a little that our two longest serving monarchs do not merit a mention in the lists. Anne Boleyn was of course influential indirectly in her short life and I would probably have thrown her into the pot possibly along with Elizabeth of York over whose hand the War and Roses were effectively ended.
Have a great weekend.
Hi Rhian! >Congratulations! As you can see, I am very far behind, but I wanted to offer my best wishes for your very exciting news!
>71 BLBera: The college-selection/placement process is indeed very different than it is here, but I imagine it is equally as nerve-wracking. My brother was married yesterday, and a dear friend of his from his St. Andrew days came here for the wedding and stayed with us. He has been teaching for several years at Oxford, but recently accepted a tenured position at Bristol, for which he is very excited. Not sure if that would mean anything to J, but I like the (potential) connection:)
>103 SandDune: Ooh, I haven't heard of this Muriel Spark -- I'll keep an eye out for it.
(adding) did we ever find out what the neighbor does?
We've just coming back k from seeing the film"Kedi", a lovely Turkish documentary about the street cats of Istanbul. I'd recommend it to all those cat lovers out there.
>108 lauralkeet: I'm happy to see your recommendation, Rhian. I've heard of it and it has been in some of the art cinemas in major cities, but we haven't had a chance to see it ourselves. I hope it's available on Netflix or some other streaming service at some point.
>109 SandDune: We went to Saffron Walden to see it, where the cinema can be relied upon these days to have all sort of wonderful foreign films. Considering it was a documentary film in Turkish on a Monday night the cinema was pretty full, but then it did have quite a few litters of kittens! I found it a very heartwarming film, but without being sentimental, not just about the cats but also about their human carers. You can't say owners as the cats are definitely not owned, but many of them have one or more people with whom they interact a lot.
That looks a treat Rhian. I always enjoy the street cats in Italy and Greece. It's years since I had cats of my own.
Congratulations for doing so well on your degree. I took years to do a program while working as well. I was so used to going to classes that I continued for one more but then gave up and now I have no idea how I ever had the time to go to class and do homework because I am busier than ever.
You are very quiet Rhian, hope all is well. Maybe you are sunning yourself somewhere exotic?
Like Caroline, I am missing your presence here Rhian. Hope that you are doing great wherever and whatever you are up to.
Love to MrSandDune and J.
>103 SandDune: I'm also a Spark fan, Rhian. I have this one on my shelf, and your comments are giving it a nudge.
Apologies for my absence. We were away in Portugal from the 19th August to 3rd September and since we have got back it hasn't been SO busy. Usually, we go away at the beginning of July and so when we get back Mr SandDune can deal with all the washing and ironing and all the other stuff that getting back from holiday involves. Whereas this year he came back and went straight into the maelstrom of a new school year immediately, so I had to do it all.
I have done some reading while I was away:
Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders *****
The Fifth Season N.K. Jemisin ****
The Stone Sky N.K. Jemisin***1/2
The Obelisk Gate N.K. Jemisin ***1/2
Verdigris Deep Frances Hardinge ***
Through the Language Glass Guy Deutscher *****
>114 PaulCranswick: Caroline, as you see I was sunning myself - not so sure that Portugal is that exotic though! While we did have WiFi pretty much everywhere we were staying it was either very slow and prone to disappearing altogether, or only worked if you sat in a certain place, so wasn't conducive to spending a lot of time online.
>112 Familyhistorian: >113 Caroline_McElwee: That's for keeping my thread warm for me!
>118 rosalita: >119 PaulCranswick: >120 SandDune: Thanks for the welcome back!
I spent a week in the Algarve in 1979 with a high school friend and loved, loved, loved it. Pre Internet, of course, Eurail passes, staying in youth hostels, eating as much fresh fish as we could with copious amounts of wine for dinner and drinking coffee and eating peaches and almonds for breakfasts. Heaven.
I'm glad to see that you gave Lincoln in the Bardo five stars. Absolutely stunning, IMO.
So very far behind on threads - and there is so much here to comment on. From books to scenery to the more personal.
First, I hope your cat does well on medication. We've lost a few when too young.
Second, I love all your photographs - especially of Salisbury Cathedral and you as a little one!
Now, already, the book thoughts are falling out of my head, but I enjoyed the lists of important women and I like yours better! I was hoping for something more about the Jemisins, but I'll go and look on the book pages. I sort of liked whatever the trilogy was that I read a while back, but can't remember the title of that either, only that it wasn't any of these.
Hani is about to take a leaf out of your book, Rhian and wants to visit Portugal with Yasmyne when she jets off for a month in England, next week. Any suggestions I could pass on to her of where to stay, what to see, what to avoid, etc.?
Have a lovely weekend.
>124 TadAD: I haven't been down to Lisbon and south in a long time, but I've been in the north fairly recently. I love winding, colorful alleys of Porto and sitting in the cafes down by the river eating the vegetable soup and drinking vinho verde. Guimarães, a medieval town, is nearby. Braga, which is one of the youth centers of Europe (don't know how old she is) is just a little north.
Oh dear, my idea that I would have more time last week went sadly pear-shaped. The plan was this: I was in a conference in Nottingham on Thursday and Friday, and so Mr SandDune was taking J to the University of Durham on Friday evening for his final Open Day. But then Mr SandDune went down with flu on Tuesday and hasn't been in a fit state to go anywhere. We talked about me driving from Nottingham to Durham on Friday night and meeting J there but in the end he decided he would be OK going on his own. So I was a slightly nervous mother - he's not particularly used to travelling around on his own and the journey to Durham from where we live is a little complicated - but he was fine, and got back last night. But Mr SandDune is still not well, he's eating and drinking OK but still spending half the day in bed, so I've been rushing around all weekend doing everything else that needs doing.
Anyway, J seemed to quite like Durham, although he didn't feel that the student accommodation where he was staying was up to scratch compared to the other universities he's looked at (no en-suite bathrooms apparently) but he did like the course. We went to the University of Sheffield a few weeks ago, and looked at the hall of residence where I had lived in my first year. It must have been quite new when I was there in 1979, so it's fairly old now, but that had all been converted to en-suite rooms as well. It's definitely the expectation for twenty-first century students!
>122 sibyx: Karen, I would imagine that the Algarve is much changed from the 1970's. It's a very popular destination for British tourists and I would imagine that it's much more developed these days. But we found Portugal lovely, and did eat a fair amount of fish (and drink a fair mount of wine for that matter). But I can't say I understand the Portuguese liking for salt cod! We had it a couple of times and they have just piles of it in the supermarkets. It's OK, but it certainly wouldn't be my fish of choice.
>124 TadAD: >125 SandDune: I'd recommend Porto as well, we only spent a day there but I'd have liked to spend longer.
We also visited Guimãraes and it was a lovely little town:
Somewhere that we visited on the way back down south was Coimbra, home to the oldest university in Portugal. I'd have certainly liked to spend a few days there. Here is its original library (which has its own little colony of bats to keep any insects that might eat the books under control):
>128 SandDune: I meant to add - I'm not sure that I would recommend Portugal for a beach holiday though - at least not one where you actually want to go in the sea. We only went to the beach once - at Ericeira on the west coast not too far from Lisbon - and the sea was absolutely freezing. I paddled in about half an inch of water for ten seconds (literally) and it was quite painful. The only other place I remember the sea being so cold was when we went to Canada, to Prince Edward Islamd.
>128 SandDune: You would think that the bats would come with their own problems re books. Impressive looking place.
>126 SandDune: In 2010 when a group of us were in Scotland we stayed in university residences. The one in Edinburgh was very small for two people but had its own ensuite. That university was great because it was very close to everything. The one in Glasgow was further out of town and, while we didn't have to share bedrooms we did have to share bathrooms - it felt very old and decrepit and more what I was used to from living in residences in my school days. It is a plus to have an ensuite and, I can imagine, what students these days are used to.
I hope Mr. SandDune is feeling better.
>130 SandDune: You would think that the bats would come with their own problems re books. Apparently all the lovely antique polished wood tables get covered up every night so that they aren't damaged by any bat droppings!
All the rooms that we've seen are very small! But they usually do have some decent communal areas: all the ones we've seen have had reasonable kitchens with sufficient dining space and sofas for the number of people that they needed to serve. It is very unusual to have shared rooms these days though, even when I was at university the norm was to have single rooms. I get the impression that sharing is much more common in the States, don't know how it is in Canada?
Thanks for the helpful pointers, Rhian.
I will pass them onto Hani. xx
>126 SandDune: I would have loved my own bathroom (not to mention room, but let's not go there) as a first year ugrad so think he's got a very good point! I can only remember someone at Collingwood having en suite but I would have thought they would all have had to improve provision, as you say, expectations are really different now. (And given the £££, rightly so I think).
>133 SandDune: It was Collingwood that J stayed at the night before the OpenDay and his room was definitely not ensuite! In fact, he said he could not find the showers but I'm sure they were there somewhere.
He wasn't altogether sure about the college system at Durham. I think one of the things he's looking forward to about university is that there will be sufficient people to share an interest even if it's quite obscure. At Durham he got the impression that most social activities were via the College, and so for some of the smaller colleges he wouldn't get a particularly biggger year group than he's got at school.
I spent the morning with J at Great Ormond Street Hospital this morning to have his final check-up before he transitions to the adult hospital service. (You may remember that he was thought to have a potentially serious connective tissue disorder.) The good news is that over the last few years there has been no change in the aortic dilation that they were concerned about, and as they can now assess him on the adult criteria, they now see his measurements as being within the normal scale, albeit at the higher end, rather than being too high. His genetic testing hasn't shown up any genetic markers for known serious connective tissue disorders either. So all in all they are very happy with him, they have taken him off his medication (he was on beta-blockers to keep his blood pressure low) and have given him the all clear for virtually all activities barring competitive weight-lifting!
We were there for quite a long time (ultrasound, ECG, MRI scan, separate meetings with cardiology team, geneticist, and then nurse-practitioner dealing with the transition), but it's a relief to get this news. I was very impressed with the way that the transition was dealt with: the cardiologist and nurse practitioner from his new hospital was present at the handover so that any concerns could be discussed together. He will need to go to St Barts in London for another cardiology check-up in a year, but they thought that if things continue as they are he may not need to go after that for another two years. He's been discharged from the genetics team altogether.
We went to our normal Italian restaurant for lunch to celebrate and then a brief visit to the British museum, and a quick trip to the London Review of Books bookshop.
Sounds like a good result, and a lovely way to celebrate.
Laughing that J went to Collingwood and couldn't find the showers, never mind not having an ensuite. Poor guy! No wonder he was unimpressed.
>135 charl08: Fantastic news about J, Rhian! And even beyond the clean bill of health, what a wonderfully organized and patient-centered process that all seems. Having the chance to meet your new doctors and consult with them and your old doctors at the same time sounds like a solid way to transfer care.
>138 SandDune: I get the impression that many parents find the transition process daunting, especially those whose children have spent a lot of time in the hospital and who have come to know the doctors and nurses who are responsible for their care. One of the nurses had already phoned me up last week to see if I had any queries about the process, and to warn me that today's appointment was likely to be longer than normal.
Hurrah for the positive medical results for J--I know you have to be ecstatic!
>135 charl08: That's excellent news for J, Rhian. And I approve the celebratory rewards!
>140 Caroline_McElwee: >141 ChelleBearss: >142 SandDune: It is a weight off out minds, that's for sure.
>123 PaulCranswick: Lucy I realise I'd missed out your post from earlier. I'm not sure quite why I didn't like The Broken Earth trilogy more. Everyone seems to rave about it ... it was good, but ...I just didn't engage with the characters as much as I should have done.
Good news about J, Rhian. Has he narrowed down his school search any further?
>144 SandDune: Not really! He will probably apply to the five that he's looked at (Durham, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Bristol) and then see what offers he gets. They are then supposed to choose a first choice and a fall back offer out of all the offers that they receive. The first choice is supposed to be a university that's made an offer around the grades that they are expected to get and the second choice a bit lower (just in case). Of the ones that he's chosen Durham will probably ask for the highest grades, but at the moment he's predicted a couple of points higher than their usual offer so hopefully he will be OK.
>127 SandDune: Ugh. Salt cod. I had a bad experience with it in Lisbon and was sick all the way to France. My poor friend Haika had to put up with it. *shudder*
>137 rosalita: I loved The Year of Magical Thinking and hope you do too.
I hope that MrSandDune is fully recovered and so happy to hear the good news about J's medical results.
>135 charl08: I'm so glad for the good news and I love how you celebrated.
>149 I've been in a bit of a reading slump these last few weeks. I feel like reading but just can't decide what I want to read for some reason. I'm getting on Well with the Booker shortlist though, after vowing last year I wouldn't touch it with a barge pole! So far I've read three, and rated them as follows:
Lincoln in the Bardo George Saunders *****
Autumn Ali Smith ****1/2
Exit West Mohsin Hamid ***1/2
I think my downrating of Exit West might be influenced by the fact that it was a poor narration on Audible. I quite enjoyed it, but I can't help feeling that I would have enjoyed it more if I'd read it rather than listened to it. We've got tickets to see Ali Smith talk about her new book, Winter, at the Cambridge Literary Festival in a couple of week's time and I'm really looking forward to that. We're also going to a talk with the shortlisted authors of the Goldsmiths Prize ( for innovative fiction) which should be interesting as well.
I loved Lincoln in the Bardo. I read it but have the audiobook. Book club choices are coming up, and it will be selected for sure. I'll listen to it then.
I hope you have found something you can dig into reading-wise.
Hi Rhian - Great news about J's clean bill of health. And, it sounds like the university applications are well in hand.
I loved Autumn and was hoping it would win, but I haven't yet read Lincoln in the Bardo. It has gotten a lot of love here, so I will try to get to it soon. Lucky you to see Smith.
Love the Portugal pictures. Thanks for sharing.
Hi Rhian, it looks like you have been doing a respectable amount of reading for someone in a book slump. Maybe it feels like a slump because you are used to having to read books for your course while sneaking in books you want to read on the side?
I still haven't read Lincoln in the Bardo. Not only do I want to do so since it was the actual winner, but your five-star rating is noteworthy!
>150 BLBera: >151 Familyhistorian: >153 SandDune: Funnily enough Mr SandDune started Lincoln in the Bardo and got as far as page 5 before quitting! He’s also finished (or at least skimmed) 4321 and has pronounced it not worth reading, but being as we frequently disagree on books I think i’ll give it a go anyway.
>152 EBT1002: There may be something in that! I am very used to having a list of books that I need to get through! At the moment I am being put off by my next RL book club book Serious Sweet by A.L.Kennedy. It’s had mixed reviews and i’m rather put it off by it being on last year’s Booker Longlist! I’ve come to the conclusion that my taste and that of the judges is rather different.
Good luck with Serious Sweet. I brought it home from the library but it went back unread....
>155 SandDune: I don’t know why but AL Kennedy has never appealed very much. I think I’ve tried to read Day before, but didn’t get very far. If it was anyone else I think i’d just ‘fess up and say that it’s just not for me, but it’s the choice of someone who has a bit of history in making bad book choices. Last time it was her choice there was a bit of a fuss about her session as very few people could go or had read the book or something of that sort, can’t quite remember. Although to be honest it’s a vicious circle: the person concerned is not such a regular attender as other people, and people tend to be a little bit more blasé about attending the meeting of someone who hasn’t bothered to attend their own.
Well I've got 18% of the way through Serious Sweet and I can't say it is grabbing me. So far we have had one person, a (senior?) civil servant, who has expended much angst on getting to work on time, and obtaining a clean pair of trousers. Also, there is another woman who has had a cervical smear and has got very tearful about it. I think I'm missing something somewhere.
I had a bit of time for reading as I had to go to a follow-up appointment after a routine breast scan a couple of weeks ago. Everything was OK, so I wasn't there quite as long as I had expected. Another mammogram and an ultrasound and a quick chat to the doctor and I was on my way. (I'm very prone to breast cysts and what they had seen was apparently a small cyst which had disappeared in the couple of weeks since my original appointment). But I did have a bit of a nightmare journey. It wasn't in the usual hospital that does that sort of thing locally, but a lot further away (actually only about an hour's drive outside of rush hour but outside the radius of what I consider local). And my sat nav decided to get stuck on tunnel mode just as I'd reached the limit of my own navigational knowledge. Eventually, I got it working again only to then drive around and around the hospital for ages trying in vain to find a parking space. Then I realised that I'd put the wrong postcode in my satnav and I was driving around the wrong bit of the hospital. Eventually I did find somewhere to park and arrived for my appointment in the nick of time - when I set off from home I thought I'd have loads of time to spare.
I did see four red kites on the journey between the hospital and work though, which was nice.
>158 rosalita: What a journey, Rhian! But at least the news was good once you finally were able to park and get inside. I am hopeless with directions and get lost all the time. I rely on GPS so much nowadays, but it's disconcerting when it goes awry even though it wasn't that many years ago I didn't have it at all.
Glad the news was good Rhian.
The Kites would be lovely to see too.
I wasn’t a big fan of Serious Sweet, I could see what she was trying to do, but it didn’t work for me. I did like Day though, but I remember it took a bit of getting into.
I’m in the minority with Lincoln in the Bardo. After 150 pages I threw it aside, something I rarely do.
Hurray for a good outcome at the hospital, once you found it! I hate those sat nav glitches, which always seem to happen at the most inconvenient moments.
I'm waffling on Lincoln in the Bardo. I thought maybe it wasn't for me, but then it won the Booker and a RL friend of mine also sung its praises but I just don't know ...
I liked Day, but I'm typing that and vaguely thinking that I'm not completely sure I ever finished it... Glad you made it to the hospital in the end. Was in Yorkshire via satnav at the weekend, and we were going down smaller and smaller roads, with steeper and steeper inclines, and I had my doubts. Fortunately it was all very scenic and the driver wasn't worried, so worried for nothing.
>154 charl08: jessibud2 abandoned the audiobook of Lincoln in the Bardo so I decided to see what turned her off. I have it, started listening to it, and realized that I'd only be able to listen to it if I followed along in the book, too. I'm a very visual person and seeing the names associated with the conversations, albeit underneath being a bit disconcerting at first, helped me keep track of everybody.
It's definitely not for everybody, but for some reason it immediately grabbed me and never let go.
>158 rosalita: I'm glad the news/results were positive after that crazy day.
I'm ambivalent about Lincoln in the Bardo given the divergent reviews but since I have a personal challenge to read all winners of the Booker prize, I will read it eventually.
That, or I'll bail on the challenge. You know, I just had one of those moments: "Ellen, you don't have to complete that personal challenge. You can read whatever you darn well please!" Hmm.
This is a time of year when I as a non-American ponder over what I am thankful for.
I am thankful for this group and its ability to keep me sane during topsy-turvy times.
I am thankful that you are part of this group.
I am thankful for this opportunity to say thank you.
I want to apologise for rather dropping off the face of the earth over the last month or so. The fact is that J has been having some mental health issues for some time, which I don’t really want to go into in detail because of his privacy, but we only became aware of them earlier in the autumn. This may affect his ability to go to university next year (although we’re hoping not). As you can imagine this has caused everyone a great deal of stress and Mr SandDune, in particular, is finding it very difficult. I’ve been having a number of physical symptoms, and on visiting the GP Monday last week it seems that they are all likely to be stress related to, as i’ve been trying to support Mr SandDune as well as J. I’ve previously had gastritis and all the symptoms had come back with a vengeance (apparently stress makes your stomach acid levels go through the roof). I’m also in the process of being diagnosed either with asthma or mild COPD and do feel breathless at times, which has also got worse over the last month or so, even though my consultant seems to think that there’s nothing physical to account for it. So that’s probably stress related too.
Anyway, I have been feeling much better since i’ve seen the GP, I think just talking to someone about it was helpful. J is now seeing a counsellor who he is finding helpful, and his school have been very supportive, so that’s good. I probably won’t keep up my thread much for the remainder of this year (my reading has fallen through the floor anyway!) but I will try and pop in to other people’s.
>166 PaulCranswick: Oh dear, Rhian. I am so sorry to read your news. I trust that J will be fine and please do give him a big hug from all of us here who remember his company for that Vietnamese meal we all wolfed down in Kuala Lumpur.
As an asthmatic I can also sympathise and the stresses and strains that you are facing won't help.
Do take care of yourselves and remember that you have plenty of friends over here that care for you and will always root for the well being of you and yours. xx
Ah, Rhian, I am sorry to read your news too.
It seems that you're doing all the right things to take care of J and yourself. I'm sorry Mr. SandDune is having such a particularly difficult time with it. It frequently falls to us women to support our families through the emotional and mental minefields of life. I can imagine how draining it all is, having gone through some major issues with daughter in her senior year and balancing her, husband's and my feelings and needs. Keep talking to your GP, take special care of yourself.
Hugs to you all.
Rhian, I'm so sorry to hear about J and the stress you are all going though. It's good that you can talk to your GP - please make sure you go again if you think you need to. It's always nice to see you on the threads, so don't worry if you can't keep this one up to date!
>166 PaulCranswick: So sorry to hear you have all been struggling. It's always difficult to see someone we care about struggling with mental health issues and I think it's particularly hard for parents to watch their child struggle with this. I can sympathise with the physical symptoms of stress as I also seem to get some combination of various physical symptoms when I'm stressed. I'm glad seeing your GP helped and that J is finding seeing a counsellor helpful.
Take care of yourself and don't feel guilty if you're not able to post on LT.
>166 PaulCranswick: Rhian, I'm sorry to hear about this difficult time for you and your family. Our younger daughter had some mental health challenges during the same time in her life, and it was incredibly stressful. I hope that seeing this and comments from others above helps you realize you are not alone -- this is just something that is not usually talked about and one tends to deal with it privately. I'm very glad you've been able to identify and begin to address J's situation, and also that you have seen a doctor yourself. I hope you will continue to do so, and I wish all three of you the best during this difficult time.
I'm very sorry to hear about J's mental health problems, Rhian. I enjoyed meeting him earlier this year, and found him to be a lively, engaging and very intelligent young man. Hopefully this is just a bump in the road, and although no one wants their child to go through difficulties like these it may be better that it happened now than during the stressful first year at university. You, J and A will be in my thoughts and prayers.
Stress can most certainly exacerbate gastritis; excess production of steroids, whether produced endogenously by the adrenal glands due to stress or taken exogenously due to a medical condition (e.g., prednisone prescribed for an asthma exacerbation), will increase the production of hydrochloric acid by gastric cells, and lead to gastroesophageal reflux, gastritis or peptic ulcer disease. I have GE reflux, but my symptoms are well controlled by a proton pump inhibitor; I take one tablet of omeprazole daily, and by midday I know if I've missed a dose, as I'll develop heartburn if I don't.
Given your prior comments and hearing your cough on occasion when we've met up I'm not surprised that you'll likely be diagnosed with asthma or COPD. I hope that your symptoms improve soon, especially since winter is just around the corner.
If there is anything I can help with please feel free to contact me, at any time.
Another one thinking of you coping with the stress and worry. So good that J is talking to someone - such a stressful time for young people, and as Laura says, so many going through it silently / privately.
Adding my thoughts for you and your family Rhian. I hope that J is able to start college as planned, but it isn’t the end to of the world if it’s a little delayed. Make sure you take care of yourself too. I’m glad the visits to the doc helped.
Adding my sympathy, Rhian, re J's situation and yours and your husband's. I'm glad J's finding the therapist helpful, and that the GP has been helpful for you.
I can only add my best wishes to everyone else’s, Rhian, and say that I will hold you and all of your family in my thoughts. You have many friends here!
Gosh, Rhian, so sorry to hear that. Wishing all three of you a speedy recovery to good health.
Sorry to read about your and J's problems, Rhian.
Stress can be a trigger for many problems. My own fights with depression and other mental health problems also started in my last year at school, like J. Sadly there wasn't much help in those days, so it took decades to deal with them. I hope J can get the help he needs, and get on the road to recovery soon.
Hope things are a little better with J, Rhian. Thinking about you and trusting that everything will be fine soon enough. xx
Sorry to hear about your family's issues, Rhian. I hope you can all find relief. Sometimes lessened expectations can help on the road to recovery but that is easier said than done. But, above all you need outside support. I found that the support of my coworkers is what got me through the darkest times with my family. All the best to you and your family in this stressful time.
>166 PaulCranswick: Lord, Rhian, there is no need to apologize. You have been juggling a lot! I'm sorry to hear about the difficulties your family is navigating and I do hope J is able to sort things out and find treatment that helps. And yes, stress can and will send stomach acid levels through the roof. I hope you have been able to find some relief for that as you support J and MrSandDune along the way.
Don't add us to your list of stressors. We're here, we're interested, and we're happy to provide recommendations for reading-during-difficult-times. :-)
MERRY CHRISTMAS and may 2018 be a good vintage for you and the family Rhian.
Wishing you and yours a happy holiday season full of laughter, love, and lovely reading.
It is that time of year again, between Solstice and Christmas, just after Hanukkah, when our thoughts turn to wishing each other well in whatever language or image is meaningful to the recipient. So, whether I wish you Happy Solstice or Merry Christmas, know that what I really wish you, and for you, is this:
Stopping by to wish you and yours all good things this holiday season.
Merry Christmas from Philadelphia, Rhian! Give my best to A and J, and I wish the best for all of you in the coming year. I look forward to seeing you again in 2018.
Belated Christmas wishes! Thank you for your wishes, too.
Wishing you and your family all the very best for Christmas and the New Year.
Stopping by to add my Christmas wishes to you and your family Rhian.
A great start to the New Year yesterday, although a very muddy one. We went for a walk along the Lea navigation, chosen because we thought towpaths would be less muddy than the general countryside. And the towpaths were less muddy, but the return was via a ploughed field. And i’d discovered half way there that I’d forgotten to pick up my walking boots. And then I fell over ... in the mud. So by the time I got back to the car I was fairly filthy! And of course when we got home we needed to bath Daisy, who was also fairly filthy, which meant both me and Mr SandDune got drenched. So change of clothes number two was needed. Anyway in the afternoon we met up with old friends and I managed to keep both clean and dry through that!
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