Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Book Review - Confessions Of A Male Nurse

 Confessions of a Male Nurse
by Michael Alexander
Published by The Friday Project (Harper Collins UK), May 2012

As I have had the misfortune of needing four operations already this year, I have spent a goodly amount of time in hospital, and this was one of the books in my Read & Review list.
 The book consists of short chapters, ideal for intermittent reading .I am so glad I read it, as it was one of the most thoughtful books I have read this year. 

Having worked in a hospital myself,  it rang so authentically - and in some places, horrifyingly - true. Understaffed wards, sometimes insufficiently trained medical and nursing staff and unsupportive management are the things all hospital staff deal with at some time or another, and this book, although rip-roaringly amusing in places, pulls no punches at all about the quite dreadful impact these scenarios can have on patient care and staff safety alike.
  Despite this sobering aspect, the camaraderie, team spirit and good humour the author encounters in the hospitals in which he works provides some heart-warming episodes too.  Parts of the book are quite literally hysterically funny and made me loud out loud on many occasions.

The British NHS has many good points , but it did not surprise me that eventually the author decided to go back to work in New Zealand where nurses are valued more and work in better conditions.
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Book Review - A Season Of Love

A Season Of  Love
by Amy Clipston

Book 5 of the Kauffman Amish Bakery series.

Published by Zondervan, 2012

Katie is helping her pregnant Aunt Rebecca  while one of her own best friends, Rebecca's niece Lindsay, is in the Englisher world helping care for her brevet-aunt who has had an accident. The focus is very much on Katie in this book, starting with her decision to tell Lindsay about Rebecca's delicate state of health with a complicated pregnancy.

Katie, Lindsay and Lizzie Anne are delighted to be reunited again  and Lindsay decides that she definitely wants to be baptised in the fall with her friends and also finds herself  developing a romantic relationship with her dear friend Matthew. 

Katie feels very left out as she has no boyfriend and when her brother Samuel proposes to her friend Lizzie, she is bitterly hurt. She becomes closer to Jake, a distant Mennonite family relative but she knows a relationship between an Amish girl and a Mennonite boy will be unacceptable to her family especially as she has now been baptised into the church and is expected to abide by stricter rules of conduct than before...

What the Englisch would regard as unremarkable is not necessarily acceptable to the Amish when such behaviour is regarded as drawing attention and remark to oneself or one's family. A series of innocent mistakes and mishaps causes great family tension and misunderstandings; Katie's father has not been the most tolerant character in the previous books and he comes across as insecure and rather aggressive and domineering at times in this one. He may be a good provider for his family, but he is not a good father; his mishandling of the situations means that poor Katie's life veers from bad to worse in a short space of time and the tension affects every member of the extended family, whether directly or indirectly..

Unhappy, confused and feeling totally misunderstood, Katie struggles with the restrictions placed upon her, and even her close  friendship with Lindsay is seriously threatened by the events which unfold. I don't want to spoil the story, so I will not divulge the denouement.........

The book focuses very much on the younger members of the extended Kauffman family, and it is lovely to see what happens to these three dear friends as they mature and make decisions for their adult lives.
As always, the recipes insterpersed in the book are a delight.

A  throughly enjoyable read and end to the Kauffman Bakery families' story.

 Thank you, Amy !

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Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Summer Walk

             I thought you might enjoy sharing a typical summer walk with Prince Vasyl.

As we reach the brow of the hill, we see a garden with sweet-scented lavender,
red and purple fuschias and pink hydrangeas hanging over the wall. 
We always stop to admire them !

The village is ancient; the Church was started soon after the Norman Conquest
and many of the cottages around it have very old foundations
 even if the later additions are Tudor......

Some of the new buildings are in mock-Tudor style,
 but don't quite manage to deceive :-)

I have been told this is an historic fire insurance plaque.......

The view of the sea from the top of the hill.

And the view of the Norman Church tower, which dominates the village.

The view of the North and Eastern aspects of the Church
 through the iron gate into the churchyard.

One of the Celtic Cross stones, though of relatively recent date.

Local folklore is adamant that Dick turpin's family are
 buried in this set of graves
 directly under the ancienty yew tree.
I have not done any research to say
 yea or nay to this popular belief :-)

The view from the Turpin graves is a tranquil one indeed !

The churchyard is completely full and only families with
an existing grave with space left in it can be buried here. 
 It is possible for cremated remains to be scattered in one small area.
All other burials have to take place in the municipal cemetery.

I love the angel graves.

This evening primrose plant has seeded itself and also
established itself  near adjoining graves.
 It looks and smells wonderful.

The grave plot of an Italian family, which is very ornate
 for a simple Anglican country churchyard

I love  this one.

And this marks the entrance to an underground burial vault.

This one is right next to the boundary wall
separating the churchyard from the children's playground.

This one makes me think of giant chess pieces.

And this one has fallen into disrepair and had
 to be dismantled and laid flat for safety reasons.

This one is completely overgrown with foliage.

The buttresses of the massive tower are very impressive !

The crenellations of the tower were invaluable for defence in troubled times,
 as were the narrow arrow-slit windows.

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Harvest Begins

Harvest has begun in the fields near us.
Hay bales are appearing.....

The farmer had finished for the day, leaving the machinery
 in the field to provide a nice block of colour.

Looking down the sloping field.
The dune system, the beach with the tide out
and houses on the other side of the bay are visible.

The view through the hedge separating the field from nearby houses.

My favourite of the photos.
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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Letting Go

We are putting our house up for sale.

Not a decision taken lightly, but we need to "downsize" a little to save money, and it will also be a chance to get a house in a slightly quieter location as we do get a huge volume of traffic rushing past our front garden, day and night. Although my rational mind accepts and acknowledges the validity of our decision, my heart does not. I find myself  wandering round the house, my hands gently touching the things I see, and then invariably heading towards the kitchen door.

Opening it is almost like opening  the door to a different world. My beautiful back garden is filled with the hum of contented bees as they buzz around the plants and herbs, many of which are in flower at the moment. The smell of the garden is indescribably wonderful; early in the morning when the dew is still present as it potentiates the heady smell of the lavender, honeysuckle and raspberries growing in close proximity to each other. If I brush past the bay tree, the heavy scent of the leaves is almost intoxicating, and further up the garden is my beloved white rose tree which smells so fragrantly of Turkish Delight and never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I shall miss it so very much. The sadness I feel is so strong it produces a physical pain. Every day brings a procession of varied birds to the feeding station visible from the window, who like the shelter the garden provides as well as the fruit and berries for their delectation. It will take many years to build a garden similar to this one, many years of relative barrenness as the trees, plants and shrubs I hope and plan to plant will slowly, so slowly, grow their way to maturity.

I wish I did not have this inbuilt resistance to change, this inability to live for the moment, enjoy and then let go gracefully and embrace what new things may lie in store.

I will not mourn the house, but I will mourn for the loss of my precious garden and its living things. Even the creep-crawlies.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

Book Review - A Promise For Miriam

A Promise For Miriam
by Vannetta Chapman

Harvest House Publishers, 2012

This is the first in a new series, The Pebble Creek Amish.

The story starts with a tragedy. When five year old Grace Miller's mother dies, she is savagely berated for crying by her grandfather. The normally articulate child becomes introverted and simply stops speaking at all.
Her father Gabe eventually decides they need to make a new start, and he and Grace leave their Amish community and move to another community far away in Pebble Creek, Wisconsin.

When Grace starts school, her teacher, spinster Miriam King, is nonplussed by this unusual little girl and her taciturn and inward-looking father. Miriam is a a rather more feisty Amish heroine than we have come to expect, but her attempts to take matters into her own hands and get Grace talking again are met with pasive and then active resistance from Gabe, who is content to leave Grace come to terms with things in her own way and in her own time.

Gabe finds the demands of running the farm and trying to renovate the almost derelict house and buildings on his own to be an all encompassing task, especially in the bitter winter, and tragedy almost ensues when Grace is left alone in the house......

Will Gabe give in and accept the help offered by his neighbours? Will he allow Miriam to help Grace speak again ? Read it and find out !

All the main charcters are well-drawn, believable and very alive to the reader, and I found it impossible not to cheer Miriam on in her efforts to do what she thinks is best for Grace, and ultimately for Gabe too. I am really looking forward to seeing what happens next in this series.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Checking And Giggling

DH and I were trying to work out how old his web-book is, as the work he is needing to do on it is causing the poor little machine to struggle mightily and he really needs an up-to-date machine.

I had the brainwave of checking my blog because I knew I had written a blogpost about getting my machine some months before The Hubster bought his....and lo and behold, I found the post in all its glory and giggled all the way through reading it as it brought back so many memories from December 2008.

So here, for your delectation, is That Post :-)

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Sunday, July 08, 2012

Book Giveaway !!

 We have a winner !!!

I didn't realise so many of my blog-readers are also secret Amish fiction fans; I enjoyed reading the comments here and the emails I received.

Shelley, who commented on the blog post is the winner, so could you please email me: orthodoxmum at gmail dot com
with your name and mailing address so I can get the book in the post to you.

 I am absolutely delighted to be able to host my first ever book giveaway on The Garden Window blog !

Jerry Eicher has kindly donated and sent a *signed* copy of  his book "Missing Your Smile", which is the first in his bestselling Fields of Home series;  you may remember that I read, enjoyed and reviewed book 2 in this series,  Following Your Heart , back in February and his stand-alone book My Dearest Naomi in April.

It has been a delight to finally find out the full story of what happened between Susan Hostetler and her two-timing, smooth-tongued fiance Thomas to prompt her to leave her Amish home and family to live in the city of Asbury Park and attempt to carve out a new life for herself in the Englisha world.  Despite its strangeness and very real dangers, Susan begins to find her feet in this unfamiliar new world.

She finds employment, friendship with young folk of her own age, learns to drive - though not without some hair-raising experiences both for her and her patient coach Robbie, embarks on a possible romance with a  young businessman, studies and gains qualifications. Her avowed aim, to leave her Amish background far in the past, seems to be going well - until she meets a troubled young pregnant woman living in miserable circumstances and involved with a no-good boyfriend.  Teresa is desperate to find a good, loving and deeply Christian home for her unborn baby and asks Susan's help to find a suitable Amish family.

Susan wants to help, but fears the repercussions a visit to her community will have on her new life. She knows how desperately her parents have missed her from their loving and poignant letters to her but can she bear to go back once more and leave the world of Asbury Park behind? Or can she bear to put her family through the pain of having to part from her once again?

So much of this book resonates deeply. Early on in the book, her parents' very real pain and anguish, wanting what is best for their youngest daughter and also wanting to follow what is God's Will reduced me to tears. Susan's struggle to get used to the idea of using electricity and her fear of using the microwave was both touching and utterly believable. Jerry Eicher was born and raised Amish himself, and the book is filled with authenticity about both the Amish and Englisha worlds. Both worlds are depicted realistically, warts and all, and unlike in many Amish-themed books, Susan's choice is not a clearcut one.

If you would like to enter the draw for the book, just leave a comment here or email me at orthodox mum at g mail dot com by 6pm GMT on Sunday 15th July :-)

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Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Safely Home

 Thank you all for your prayers; I am safely back home after my operation - the fourth since the middle of March.

It was initially extremely painful, but I am reasonable comfortable today as long as I rest regularly and for good periods of time.

I am now officially categorised as difficult to intubate after two successive operations; to read about my latest escapade, wander over to my MiscellaneousMumblings blog entry .
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Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Just Thinking

Updated to add:
I chatted to the lovely anaesthetist who looked after me yesterday, and he assures me that ether and chloroform both rapidly fell into disuse after the discovery of the drug Halothane in the mid-1950s, and by the time he was training in the late 80s, no-one ever learned how to use them, and by then, even Halothane was being superseded  by newer drugs such as Cyclopropane.

I've been busy packing my suitcase and preparing my things to get ready to go into hospital this afternoon in preparation for my operation later this evening.

We really are incredibly fortunate to be living in the age we do, even if we may not think it at times!

If it were not for modern medicine, I would not be able to have this surgery; although not necessarily a life-threatening problem, it is an uncomfortable, debilitating, unpleasant problem and it limits my normal functioning. It is treatable, though not always completely successfully, and that is a small risk I am choosing to take.

 Like all surgery, there is also an element of risk in undergoing anaesthesia and a risk of post-operative infection, but if there were to be a sudden major disaster scenario or major economic collapse etc, modern medicine as we know it would most likely grind to a halt and we would see a very rapid reversion to the fairly primitive medical provision of at least a hundred if not two hundred years ago.

Would I want to undergo this surgery without any anesthesia ? No, I would just put up with my current level of discomfort and inconvenience and manage as best I could.

 How many people have the knowledge or the ability to be able to produce even basic anaesthetic drugs such as ether or chloroform? How many doctors have had any experience of ever using these drugs to safely anaesthetize a patient for surgery ? I would imagine that only quite elderly doctors or those who have had experience of working in Third World Countries would have this knowledge or expertise. Many operations would be completely unthinkable without having safe blood transfusions readily available and mortality rates would be high.

It is a sobering thought, isn't it ?

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