Life and "Travels With My Aunt"

My life right now is still split between home and the hospital. Mum is stable at this point, with an infusion of iron giving her some energy and an appetite. It's still a battle to find a balance between heart function and kidney function. They lowered her lasix dosage when her kidney function declined, then the fluid built up again and now they've had to increase the lasix. There's no knowing how long her organs can go on like this. I found out today they are moving her again to another floor. It seems she's in one place till the bed is needed, then she's moved somewhere else until that bed is needed, then she's moved again. She's been getting excellent care where she's been in Geriatrics so I'm disappointed that she's going somewhere else.

I finished reading "Travels With My Aunt" by Graham Greene and was delighted with it. It was an easy read for a stressful time, but more than that it was thoroughly enjoyable. I liked the story, the characters and the language.Since then I've been able to get back into the Einstein biography in a limited way. I read about 20 pages a days so it doesn't get too overwhelming, though it's less daunting now that I'm in the latter part of his life where there is more emphasis on his personal life than on the science.

I've begun reading "Bellman and Black" by Diane Setterfield for book club next week. I probably won't be able to go but I like to keep up on the reading if I can. So far I like the book, but I'm a little leery because it's been called a ghost story and I really don't like ghost stories. I did enjoy her first book "The Thirteenth Tale", and am hoping this will be as light on the ghost aspect as that was.

I'll leave you with this quotation that came in my email today. I thought you might like it:

"Laughter is wine for the soul - laughter soft, or loud and deep, tinged through with seriousness - the hilarious declaration made by man that life is worth living."
Seán O'Casey (Irish playwright)

A Time Apart

I'm not getting much reading done these days. I'm spending a lot of time at the hospital where my 89 year old Mum is in a steady decline. We were looking forward to a 90th birthday party in October but that's looking less and less likely each day. She was in hospital in February for two weeks, then home for three, then back in. It's sad to see how much weaker she is now than she was just a month ago. It's been difficult for all of us to see her suffering with vomiting, pain and confusion. At this point we just want her to be comfortable. 

I had been reading a biography of Albert Einstein but it became a bit too much for my stressed and tired brain so I set it aside and am now reading Travels With My Aunt by Graham Greene. It's light and it fits into my purse so I can keep it with me for a few odd minutes reading here and there. The Einstein would require a Uhaul. I'm supposed to read "Bellman and Black" for book club but I'm not sure at this point if that will happen. 

I do have one post I still need to write. I finished "A Lady Cyclist's Guide to Kashgar" a few weeks ago and I hope to get something posted about it eventually. I didn't like it. That may be all I end up saying.

Wishing you all a great weekend,

"Things I've Been Silent About"

Things I've Been Silent About by Azar Nafisi

Azar Nafisi grew up in Iran during the reign of the last Shah. She was there during the Islamic revolution and watched as her freedoms, as a citizen and as a woman, were taken away one by one.

 I read another of her books, Reading Lolita In Tehran, a couple of years ago and was impressed with her intelligence and writing skill, but mostly with her story. She stood up to authorities who tried to stifle her, she spoke out and refused to become the silent, submissive  woman she was expected to be.

Reading Lolita centered around the women she worked with and taught, but this book takes a closer look at her family life, especially her relationship with her parents. She comes from a political family: her father was the Mayor of Tehran and her mother a member of Parliament for a time. When she was growing up, their living room was often filled with intellectuals discussing politics and exchanging ideas about art and literature.

The author had a complicated and difficult relationship with her mother. She was closer to her father, who sometimes used her as a buffer between him and his wife. There was a lot of conflict in their home, but in her writing her treatment of both parents seems as balanced and fair as would be possible in the circumstances. All of this personal conflict takes place against a backdrop of revolution and war and the loss of women's rights and freedoms.

I enjoyed this book on many levels. It's always a treat to read intelligent writing, especially when it comes with a good story, but I was also fascinated with the history lesson it gave. What little I knew about the revolution I'd gleaned from the newspaper and tv reports, which are always limited as sources of information. This book gives us a first hand look at life inside Iran during the turbulent years (are there non-turbulent years in the Middle East?) when their society was divided between the militant secular and the equally militant religious. 

I recommend both Reading Lolita In Tehran and Things I've been Silent About. They provide a great reading experience as well as a close up look at an important part of our world's history.