Thursday, April 24, 2014

Bright the Morning

It's one of those beautiful days that we get sometimes in Seattle, where the morning air is clear and the sun is bright and even in the little courtyard that my windows look out on, you can see the light. We live in a little apartment building, twelve units curled around that courtyard that's got a little cafe table in it, and a tiny fountain, and a wall of stones that are covered in greenery. It's actually a really lovely view, but because it's sunken, and because there are buildings around, it doesn't get much light. So a morning like this is precious, and wonderful. It won't last; the clouds are coming in, or thickening up, or whatever you want to say, but there's light right now and it's good.

I'm drinking coffee from the coffeemaker we just got, the very most basic thing that could exist, but I'm happy to have it. We've been using a Kuerig clone, K Cups of single serve coffee, and that was really convenient, but it was also expensive, and the machine was kind of erratic. Sometimes a full cup of coffee, sometimes a third of a cup of coffee. I got very tired of it, and decided it was time to just get a Mr. Coffee, and so I did. Adam doesn't much care for it, I think: he likes his single cups, either from the Kuerig machine (but we're getting rid of that) or the espresso machine or Starbucks Via, which he adores. I'm satisfied with anything, myself, and just the regular, crappy Folgers in my cup just now is fine.

There's a book beside me, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot, which I'm about two thirds of the way through, and which is incredible. The story of a woman, Henrietta Lacks, who in 1951 goes in for cancer treatment and has some of her cancerous cells taken without her knowledge (standard procedure at the time, and still somewhat even today) which turned out to be the most viable and vibrant cells ever cultured: quickly reproducing, dominant over other cells, hardy, versatile. They've been used in thousands of experiments; they helped cure polio and helped discover how genes work; they're invaluable but, if one is honest, worth billions. Her family never knew about them until 20 years later, and then spent decades still not knowing much of anything about what they were, or what they meant, or how they came to be. The book is the story of Henrietta, of her family, of the HeLa cells that came from this perfectly ordinary yet completely remarkable woman, and of all the science and legal battles and medical mischief that surrounded the whole saga. It's spectacular, and you should read it.

The sun's faded away rather a bit, though it's still bright outside. I need to get some more coffee. I need to write up some answers for questions for my paperback edition. I need to spend time with the husband. So I think I'm done with this entry. I will be back soon, though.

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