Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Some Updates, Including A Few Thoughts On Outlander

Nothing big, but many small, things are happening so I thought I would post some updates:

Terri: Although it is not a dramatic difference, she is still seeing some small improvements. I wish we knew why, or what triggered it. Probably a combination of the antibiotics doing their job (and then having a bit of a break from said antibiotics), plus the new supplement regime. It's not dramatic but it is enough that we are both noticing a difference, and that is really encouraging.

School: I am now pretty firmly decided upon Occupational Therapy as my direction. I feel good about this. Now I have to find a place to volunteer in the OT dept., as I must have 100 hours of volunteer time by the time I start the program (and 50 hours before I can apply). I talked to Alameda Hospital but unfortunately they do not have a program for this. I will try Children's Hospital but they have such a structured volunteer program (and for good reason) I'm not sure it's the best fit at this point. I guess I just have to call around. Also, the online Abnormal Psychology class is all full, so I have to take a night class after all. But that's okay, it's just one night a week. I'm looking forward to this class.

Food Stuff: Well, as I figure out every single time I do these food-sensitivity things, I am sensitive to wheat and dairy. Both! And sugar. Darn, darn, darn, darn. Double-darn. I feel soooo much better when I don't eat those three things. Unfortunately, as we all know, those three things are very hard to avoid. Especially when one likes to bake. As I do. Thankfully I don't have much of a problem avoiding dairy, and it seems that every once in awhile it's fine. Wheat is very hard for me to avoid. I will have to investigate more gluten-free recipes. I don't have anything like celiac, thankfully, but I notice a difference in how my stomach feels and how my energy is, when I don't eat wheat. And the sugar goes without saying: just every once in awhile. So, let's see if my thick skull can accept this verdict. Fruits, veggies, rice = all fine. Eggs = fine. Quinoa and other non-wheat grains = fine. Thankfully, also oatmeal is fine. I guess we just make these adjustments one day at a time.

Book Update: I'm reading Outlander and I'm having such mixed feelings about it I thought I would do a little pre-posting before I finish and give the final review. So... I started off with the book feeling kind of "meh" about it. The main character was sort of dull, and her husband was dull as doornails. However, once she fell through the stones and landed in 1743, it got much more interesting for me. I was totally loving the Scottish Highland history and culture, and even the brogue was fun for me to read. All was well. I didn't even mind the obvious budding feelings between Claire and Jamie, the mysterious and brawny Highlander she doctors with frequency. It made sense in the story and I liked them both quite a lot as characters by then.

However, after the 'forced' marriage (I use quotes because it wasn't exactly that Claire was at knifepoint or anything), we moved into Dangerous Eyerolling territory. I'll save the bulk of my eyerolling for my review, but puh-leeze. She makes such a fuss about the marriage, and yet does not seem to have any problems in the, er, marriage bed. Oh no, none at all. Our feisty Claire in fact seems to have zero qualms about this aspect. Claire also causes no end of problems for our hero(es), one such escapade resulting in a fiery argument between she and Jamie, which I thought was completely stupid because it was plainly all her fault. She is presented as intelligent and independent and yet she consistently exhibits the opposite, making stupid, risky decisions and flailing about helplessly, even as she makes pouty statements about the men "not letting her do her part, because she is a woman."

Whatever. Jamie metes out punishment for the worst of her disobediences, which I thought was so dumb and also surprised me into feeling somewhat offended. I don't quite understand the author's intent here. Is it to show how marriages really worked in the 1700s? Or to illustrate Jamie's character? Or Claire's? I can't figure it out. More about this later.

Also, Claire clearly does not miss her 'real' husband all that much, as over 300 pages into the (700+ page) book she has mentioned him perhaps three or four times since falling down the rabbit hole. And yet she struggles so much to figure out a way to get back to the stones and try to get home. Frankly, the way these two guys are presented, I'd stick around in the 1700s.

I think what I am having a hard time with is that there is so little character development, and very little actual chemistry (just a lot of, er, action). I don't usually read romance novels (and this clearly falls into that category) so I don't know if this is usual or not for this genre, but I'm finding it really annoying. Clearly the intent is that Jamie and Claire fall head over heels for each other, and while we get small glimpses of tenderness between them, I am very much missing any sense of this supposed love (which is strong enough to last over 6+ books, apparently) developing. I think I just had high hopes of a lovely romance, not this wooden representation that I'm being presented with currently. Even though I don't usually read romance novels, I do like a good romantic story and am certainly not against sexy stuff, when used well in the story.

I may have to read a few other well-recommended romance-genre novels to see how they stack up. Kate, as always, has a great recommendation for one that I may have to try.

One other small annoyance: I just got to the part where Claire apparently sees Nessie, or a relative of such beastie. I totally did not get that part. WTF? Really? The Loch Ness Monster? Really? Don't get me wrong, if there is a special about the Monster on TV, I am plopped right down in front of it. But I really did not at all get why this was included, in a very very short chapter all to itself, even.

Sigh. Aside from those bits and bobs of annoyance, I am still, of course, glued to the book and am eagerly anticipating being proven wrong. I don't hate it by any means, but I am just a bit puzzled. I'm also hoping that we get more Scots history and culture, now that we're back at the castle (in the book). I should have this finished by the weekend, since apparently I'm not so annoyed that I can't help but stay up past my bedtime to get another few chapters in.


stefanie said...

Pretty petunias (they are petunias right?). Glad Terri is still doing well. I'm vegan so don't do dairy. I could go without wheat if I had to, but sugar? I would have a hard time with that. Is it just refined white sugar? Can you use molasses or honey or agave or maple syrup or stevia? Yay for school! Good luck!

As for Outlander, I know what you mean. There are annoying things but still, it's hard to put down!

Daphne said...

Stefanie: I generally don't mind doing without dairy but I do like plain Greek yogurt sometimes. But I can live without it. The wheat is tricker, but mostly because I like to bake. Sugar is darn hard!! Yes, mostly the refined stuff. I've been playing with agave and that works well, and we're totally on the stevia bandwagon here.

Outlander: now it's getting a little better again. I will have to see how it ends to determine if I want to pick up the next one sooner or later...

Kate said...

Daphne, I hate to feel like I've converted another one to the dark side but HA! I'm really glad you used the word "wooden" to describe the characters. Yes, yes, yes.

Daphne said...

It's suddenly gotten a little better since the witch hunt (I can't believe she included Nessie AND a witch trial AND time travel -- I mean, I'm a fan of all those things, but not all in one place). I'm back into it, although wary. I can't wait to finish it and see what my final reaction is. I'm on page 591 of 850.