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What I'm reading now: 13 March 07

Well, the knitting project is finished as of last night (with the help of an NCIS:LA marathon), and will be brought to work tomorrow to be shown off. After that, it will be carefully packaged and sent by InLaw Express to its proper destination... but everything in good time.

I did, in the meantime, find time to read something: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecc Skloot. A lot of scientific research, particularly in human biology and pathology, relies on studying the reactions of cells grown in petri dishes to various substances and conditions. An overwhelming number of those cells are from what's known as the HeLa line. He La is derived from Henrietta Lacks, a black woman who died of an incredibly aggressive cancer in the 1950's, but whose cells continue to live and multiply. Author Rebecca Skloot has researched not just the start of this line of research - one of the first lines of cells to stay alive in laboratory conditions - but also Henrietta's life, and the lives of the family she left behind - none of whom knew anything about HeLa for twenty years. It's a fascinating story, thoroughly researched, and written with clarity and sympathy toward a woman and a family who continue to feel left out of their own family's history. 

Akron: 13 February 23: Furry Things

For the first few months here, we saw squirrels everywhere. There are a lot of them, mostly fat'n'sassy types who are cautious of humans, but not overly paranoid. For a while, it seemed like every walk between the apartment and the office was punctuated at least once by one of the other of us abruptly pointing and saying "Squirrel!" (Well, to be strictly accurate, it was more like "SQURL!!") They're not as much in evidence right now, which I attribute to the chill in the air, but we'll see what happens when it warms up next month.

There are also rabbits around here. We don't see them as often as we do squirrels, but it's not uncommon to see a rabbit crouching on the lawn as we pass by in the dark. They're short-eared, brown, and very cute - and quite shy.

Cats, on the other hand, we see very seldom. Apparently a local bylaw prohibits allowing your pet cat to roam free - which probably explains the plethora of SQURL!!s and bunnies. It makes seeing a cat all the more welcome when it happens, as it did last night at choir practice, when two of them were crossing the parking lot. Neither was inclined to stay and chat or be admired, but it was lovely to see them. (Can you tell I miss my Tailsome Twosome?)

What I'm reading now: 13 February 14

I had really and truly believed that I was going to be finished the book by now, but no. Book in question is The God-fearer, by Dan Jacobson, and for all that it's a small book (160 pp), it's taking me a rather a long time. (This may have something to do with the fact that it travels with me in my backpack, underneath the current knitting project.) Now that I look at it, I realize I only have another seven pages to go.

Pardon me one moment.

*pages turn*

Right. So.

Picture a man, eighty years old, not entirely clear about the present, but very clear indeed about the past, now suddenly haunted by two child-like apparations. Kobus is baffled, and casting his mind back over the years, finds an incident from his youth that might explain these ghosts. He relives that time and considers again his actions then, weighing the past against the possible alternatives. The writing is deceptively simple and beautiful, and I can understand why it was shortlisted for a Whitbread Prize.

 

Akron: 13 February 13: Short takes

So, because I can't seem to sit down and write a focused blog post, a few short takes.

1. The cold that has been attacking me since Friday afternoon is beginning to abate, to the point where I feel like I can think again. I also feel rather less like a walking pestilence factory. Needless to say, the hand sanitizer and the disinfectant wipes have seen considerable use these last three days.

2. The Honda President's Day Sale commercial that's been running is stop-and-stare weird. Think Abraham Lincoln and George Washington singing a boy-band number, backed by the Revolutionary-War-era fife and drum trio. It does not compute, especially with the cars scattered over the set - and the special effects are the work of underachievers.

3. Knitting is fun! I'm figuring out the details of the next two knitting projects, and I'm not even finished the current project. (Although I have some serious amounts of knitting time blocked out for the weekend, so who knows?)  Perhaps we'll pop in at a WallyWorld tonight to look for supplies.

4. Memo to weather: make up your mind - winter or spring? It keeps flipping back and forth across the freezing point, and I keep thinking, "Look, if you're going to act like spring, you're only allowed to dish out one snowstorm or major freezing rain burst." What can I say - Manitoba weather has spoiled me.