Something to write about…

I was going to write a post earlier this morning, but then I realized I hadn’t done anything anything to write about. So I finished a book I had started reading earlier in the week and mowed the front lawn. Now I have something to write about…

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The book, Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, was my 30th for the year and my second for this month, with the first one, The Late Show by Michael Connelly. Both were very good, but I think liked Bluebird, Bluebird a little bit better, perhaps because of part of its plot dealing with blues music. The book I learned after going on Goodreads is the first of  a planned trilogy and already has been bought by FX to be created as a drama series.

When it comes to law and order, East Texas plays by its own rules–a fact that Darren Mathews, a black Texas Ranger, knows all too well. Deeply ambivalent about growing up black in the lone star state, he was the first in his family to get as far away from Texas as he could. Until duty called him home.

When his allegiance to his roots puts his job in jeopardy, he travels up Highway 59 to the small town of Lark, where two murders–a black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman–have stirred up a hornet’s nest of resentment. Darren must solve the crimes–and save himself in the process–before Lark’s long-simmering racial fault lines erupt.

A rural noir suffused with the unique music, color, and nuance of East Texas, Bluebird, Bluebird is an exhilarating, timely novel about the collision of race and justice in America.

That is the description on Goodreads about the book and while I don’t know if it’s quite accurate in its description as the book as “noir” or “exhilarating,” it was well done. Locke, who is a screenwriter by trade, knows how to weave a story. I still like her first novel, The Cutting Season, the best, but enjoyed her other two novels, Black Water Rising and Pleasantville, also as I did this one.

As for the lawn, it seems like I’ve been mowing our lawn in pieces lately. Last week I mowed part of the back section and now today I mowed the front lawn. Probably tomorrow, I’ll mow all of the back section if the ground dries up by then. We got quite a bit of rain Thursday night in our area so the grass is still wet in the backyard. That same night, in part of our county was flash flooding, with people having to be rescued from their houses. My wife, a 911 dispatcher, was called in early Thursday night (usually goes in at midnight) because of the unexpected weather.

Lastly, on weather, while I am glad fall has arrived, it almost has come in too quickly with temperatures dropping too quick. However, that also might be because our summer was extremely humid even up until the last couple of weeks. Today, though, wasn’t as chilly as yesterday here so I guess I can’t complain…too much. Naturally, as you probably know by now, I can, and do, complain about the weather…a lot.

How was your past week? Read anything good? Watched anything good? Listened to anything good? How is the weather where you are as fall begins?

One book at a time, Part II

As I mentioned last week, I returned all the books I had checked out and cancelled all my holds in order to only read one book at a time, either from books from the library or books I already own. The book I selected first was The Late Show by Michael Connelly, which came out last July and I initially planned not to read because Connelly was introducing a new character Renée Ballard and I really wasn’t interested in a new character. However, on Tuesday, I learned that for the next Harry Bosch novel, he would be teaming Bosch up with Ballard so then I decided I “had to” read this one.

As mentioned in the caption above, it was pretty good, even though it wasn’t great. Of course, it is the first in a series so it has time to get there. It’s just not there yet. I still don’t know if I’d read it if she wasn’t teaming up with Bosch for the next one, but it was a good one to start my new/old policy of reading one book at a time.

How about you? Do you read one book at a time? Or do you have multiple books going at once? If you do, I’m just curious how you do it? I’ve never been able to do that, perhaps because I’m fairly single-minded.

One Book At A Time

The week began with my attending the funeral of of my aunt Eleanor, who passed away at the age of 87 after being in declining health for several years. While it was naturally sad, it wasn’t unexpected and it was good to see cousins I hadn’t seen in several years.

The library where I work was closed Saturday and Monday for Labor Day and then I added another day to the weekend by taking a vacation day on Tuesday. Monday, I finished mowing the lawn before noon and then chilled “day drinking.”

Monday night, we planned to get together with a neighbor to watch Drunk History, but her plans changed so we postponed until Tuesday night. However, her plans once again changed Tuesday night. We still watched Drunk History Monday night and then on Tuesday, we discovered three new shows on Netflix:

  1. Sisters
  2. Great News
  3. Kim’s Convenience

The first was really good, but we only have watched one episode thus far; the second, okay; the third, really good too. We ended up watching most of the first season Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday night.

The week ended with my college roommate Joe visiting us for a few days. He still is here Sunday morning as I am drafting this and he is going to stay through until Monday night. I only work a few hours on Monday and it’s not until late so that wil “work.” Yesterday we went out for a late lunch.

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Late lunch with a friend… And my wife @dispatcher12

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One Book At A Time

Also this past week, I decided to return all the books I had checked out to the library where I work and the Free Library of Philadelphia, where I mostly get my ebooks. I also cancelled all my holds, mostly from FLP, with many of them having been on for months and not expected for months either. As I have in the past, I decided that I only will check out one book at a time to read or read one book at a time from books I already own in my Kindle library. Of course, as in the past, this usually doesn’t last long, and I already have two books checked out from the library where I work: Depth of Winter, the latest in the Longmire series, by Craig Johnson and Gravesend by William Boyle, which just looked like it might be good. To be honest, I’ll probably bail on the Longmire because I have been disappointed with the last couple, including the last one that ended on a cliffhanger with his daughter getting kidnapped by a “bad guy” that he hadn’t had dealings with for a couple of books. This one, he goes to rescue his daughter. However, I’ll give it a chance, but it’s going to have to grab me right away or else.

I’ll leave you with a trailer to Sisters and an introduction to Kim’s Convenience:

So how was your past week? Reading, watching, listening to anything good?

Pushing Forward Back August/September 2018

Back at August

Pushing Forward Back August September 2018

The month began and ended on high notes, but in between were two major low notes: the death of a relative and the death of a library. On August 11, a relative with whom our family has had a complicated past (without going into details) passed away. Pretty much for the rest of the month, we struggled with our grieving, as the Kübler-Ross model was stuck in anger for a good part of the grieving process, which still isn’t done. Then on August 14, the library in my hometown (where I grew up, not where I live and work now) died as it was washed away by flash flooding. In this case, however, our grieving was short-lived as on August 21 a fundraiser was started to rebuild the library at another location in town.

On to the other high notes:

  1. Kim and I started the month by going to concert on Aug. 3 that was part of this year’s Endless Mountain Music Festival series in the next town. The highlight was violinist Asi Matathias performing Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7, Op. 92.”
  2. That weekend ended with my going to visit my mother, who was celebrating her 74th birthday.
  3. Kim and I continued a tradition of watching (and drinking to) the show Drunk History on Monday nights, which basically are her Friday nights, as her work week ends and she has a few days off in the middle of the week.

On the reading front, I only finished one book: The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny. I guess I wasn’t in the mood for reading this month. The best movie we watched this past month was Deadpool 2, which (maybe not) surprisingly was just as good as the first. Musically, I thought there were a few highlights including new albums by Tirzah, Mitski, Helena Hauff, and Foxing, all of whom I discovered or was introduced to by Pitchfork.

Forward to September

I started the summer with a four-day weekend for Memorial Day Weekend and now I end the summer with another four-day weekend, Labor Day Weekend here in the U.S. I tacked on a vacation day to the three days I already have off and with Kim’s schedule the way it is, she is off Monday (works from midnight to 8 a.m. but is off the rest of the day) and Tuesday. We’re not going anywhere with the only thing planned an extended Drunk History marathon since I don’t have to go into work on Tuesday.

As for the rest of the month, I work two Saturdays this month, which normally would mean I have off two Fridays (a combination of our director not wanting us to work six days in a row and something to do with the number of hours per week we work). However, because of other people being away and not having anyone to fill in that one Friday, I only have one Friday off and have a couple of days in one week with shorter hours. All to say, I do have one Friday off, so the day trip I had planned to go to the Corning Museum of Glass last month, which didn’t happen, might now happen this month.

On the reading front, I have the next Gamache book already checked out from the library ready to go and a few other books on hold that might come in. Movies and music? I really haven’t looked ahead. I think I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. the World is coming to Netflix later in the month, so that ought to be good. Of course, I’ll keep you updated on the rest of September as it happens here and on Instagram.

Update, Aug. 31: My aunt Eleanor, my father’s sister, passed away on Wednesday. She was 87. She had been in declining health for several years. Her funeral is Sunday and I plan on attending.

So how was your month of August? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in September? Share in the comments.

My Library Checkout July/August 2018

library-checkout-feature-imageHave you been using your library over the past month? What did you read? What didn’t you read? What are you waiting on? These are the questions of a meme called Library Checkout, led by Rebecca Foster of the blog Bookish Beck. Becca skipped July for personal reasons and wasn’t using her local library, but I am including July too because I was using my libraries for both months.

Library Books Read

Five:

  1. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  2. The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny
  3.  Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  4. Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  5. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo

On Hold

Five:

  1. The Cabin at the End of the World by Paul Tremblay
  2. The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson
  3. Flat Broke with Two Goats by Jennifer McGaha
  4. The Good Son by Youn-Jeong Jeong
  5. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

Returned Unread

Seven:

  1. Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of An American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
  2. Booked by Kwame Alexander
  3. Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi
  4. Death at La Fenice by Donna Leon
  5. More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera
  6. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
  7. Wonder Valley by Ivy Pochoda

Most of the books I read and returned unread were part of two back-to-back readathons in late July: the 24in48 Readathon and Dewey’s Reverse Summer Readathon. The best books of the past two months were Behold the Dreamers and The Poet X, the latter of which I listened to on audio on loan on the Hoopla app from the Free Library of Philadelphia.

What did you check out from the library this past month, put on hold, return unread, did not finish? Or if you don’t use the library, what was the best book you read from this past month? Share in the comments.

Since talking about libraries, I would be remiss in mentioning my recent post about a fundraiser to rebuild the library in the small town where I grew up. Read the post and if you are able, click through to contribute. Thank you.

The report of my hometown library’s death was an exaggeration

Paraphrasing Mark Twain’s quote, my report recently of my hometown library’s death was an exaggeration.

Click through to the fundraising page to donate:

Or for those of you not on Facebook, you can mail your donation by check (the library is a 501c3 organization and can send you a receipt for tax purposes) to New Albany Community Library, 4610 Route 220, New Albany, PA 18833.

Again just to clarify: This is the library in the town where I grew up. This is not the library where I work, The Green Free Library in Wellsboro, which is in the town that I live.

My sister also wrote a post about the library, a much more thoughtful post than mine. I encourage you to go read her post to learn more about the people of the library– and the town.

Grieving for a family member, a library, and a town

I’m still in grieving.

As I mentioned in my last Sunday Salon post, I had a relative who died that previous Saturday. A relative with whom we had a complicated past, but whom nonetheless we are grieving.

But now my grieving isn’t just for him and his family. It also is for a library and the town it served.

As I also mentioned in my Sunday Salon post two Sundays ago, my hometown library suffered damage from flash flooding on Aug. 3. Now this past week, it died.

Tuesday morning, rushing water from another round of flash flooding tore apart the first floor of the building that housed the library and then carried the second floor into the middle of the highway that goes through my hometown.

No one was injured, but a family who rented an apartment on the second floor had to be rescued. Just outside of town, and in a neighboring town, Monroeton, others were airlifted from their homes by helicopter.

I have since learned there are no plans to rebuild or relocate the library. Yes, there is a library in another neighboring town, Dushore, six and a half miles away. But it is a loss nonetheless, not just physically, but also psychologically.

Even with all this grief weighing on me, somehow I was able to finish a book: The Cruelest Month by Louise Penny. However, so far, the cruelest month to me hasn’t been April but August. I am more than looking forward to having a four-day weekend, as I added a vacation day that following Tuesday, to start September and put August well behind me.

So have you been reading anything good recently? Please share in the comments.

Clarification: This library is not where I work. This is the library in the town where I grew up, New Albany, Pennsylvania. The library where I work, in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania, is about 60 miles to the west. We had no flash flooding where we live.

In Limbo

Fishing in Limbo
“Fishing in Limbo” by Andrew Imanaka via Flickr.

This ⬆️is basically where I am as I end this past week and start a new week:

  • I’m still reading The Cruelest Month, the third Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, by Louise Penny.
  • I’m not watching much of anything beyond the original CSI  on Hulu.
  • I’m still listening to Father John Misty’s latest album (came out in June), God’s Favorite Customer, over and over, and now I’m getting my wife hooked.
  • I’m not doing much of anything because the weather while not super hot or hot at all compared to southern California or Texas standards where a few of you readers are from, it has been incredibly humid. Last night, the humidity was 97 percent, even though the temperature was in the high 60s (Fahrenheit). Oddly, or maybe not so much, it felt horrible.

Add on to that, we learned last night of the death of a relative with whom sadly our family had a complicated past (I’ll just leave it at that, not trying to be vague here, but it’s really…well…too complicated to explain). So today, I’ll try to continue to read The Cruelest Month, although I’ll be honest that I doubt I’ll be able to focus much and probably just will listen to some music, play Solitaire, and watch CSI reruns.

So what have you been/are you reading, watching, listening to, and/or doing this past week/today?

Of cruelty and floods

Each week here on The Sunday Salon, I take a look back and/or ahead at what I’m reading, what I’m watching and/or what we’re watching, what I’m listening to, and what I’m doing and/or what we’re doing.

What I’m reading

As I type up this draft, I’m in the middle of The Cruelest Month, the third book in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache series, by Louise Penny and am enjoying it thus far. As per my 25 Before I Turn 50, I want to read 10 nonfiction books. To that end, I have one nonfiction book per month planned until the end of the year:

  • August: Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family by Amy Ellis Nutt
  • September: Astrophysics for People in a Hurry by Neil deGrasse Tyson
  • October: Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • November: We Were Eight Years In Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates
  • December: You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me: A Memoir by Sherman Alexie.

That will leave five more nonfiction books for January through May 2019.

What we’re watching

We just finished the first season of the FXX series (on Hulu) You’re The Worst. We’ve seen characters like this before in such series as Catastrophe and Difficult People, but unlike in those shows, where we wearied of the bitterness of the people involved, in this one, at least so far in the first season, we haven’t. At the center also is a love story, even if it is at times a messy and complicated one, especially since the two main characters, Jimmy and Gretchen are such awful people. However, you still are pulling for them somehow, because in their own weird (horrible) way, they’re sweet together.

What I’m Listening To

What I’m/We’re Doing

Over the last couple of weeks, Kim and I both have been going to concerts with a local musical festival, some together, some separately with other people. In addition to a few free concerts, we have been lucky enough to score free tickets from generous people in the community. The festival is called the Endless Mountain Music Festival and features world-class musicians over two weeks.

Today, as you’re reading this, I’ll be visiting my mother, who celebrated her 74th birthday on Friday. My sister and I are joining her for church and then going to her house where we’re having cheesesteaks from a local general store (the owners are originally from Philadelphia).

Later this week, I had planned on lunch and a movie. However, I probably will be foregoing that as I will be putting my money elsewhere, to help my hometown library (where I grew up, not where I live and not the library where I work) which experienced losses Friday no thanks to a flash flood.

So what are you reading, watching, listening to, doing this past week and the week to come? Any highlights?

Pushing Forward Back July/August 2018

Pushing Forward Back JulyAugust 2018Back at July

As planned, the month began on a high, with three days off for both Kim and me. Kim had her normal three days off: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I took vacation days for Tuesday and Thursday, having Wednesday already off as a holiday for The Fourth of July. As I recall, we didn’t go anywhere or do much of anything, but it was still good to have the time off.  The second week, we went out to a new rib joint in town, owned by a friend of ours, and it was great. We also watched Love, Simon, which also was great. The highlight of the third week was getting the complete series of Homicide: Life on the Street and starting a landscaping project on a driveway we share with a neighbor. This past week, Kim and I were able to go to an Endless Mountain Music Festival concert at Mansfield University and it was very good. I also was able to continue the landscaping project and get it mostly done.

On the reading front, I had a great month as I read 12 books, thanks to back-to-back readathons the last two weekends of the month: the 24in48 Readathon and Dewey’s Summer Reverse Readathon. Altogether, I have read 27 books for this year.

The dozen books this month were:

  1. Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue
  2. Black Panther: A Nation Under Our Feet by by Ta-Nehisi Coates (writer), Brian Stelfreeze (artist), Joe Sabino (letterer), Manny Mederos (designer), Rian Hughes (logo designer), Jack Kirby (writer, artist), and Laura Martin
  3. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
  4. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  5. Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli
  6. The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
  7. Queenpin: A Novel by Megan Abbott
  8. Rebound by Kwame Alexander
  9. Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  10. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Hunter by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  11. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)
  12. Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score by Darwyn Cooke (author/illustrator), Richard Stark (source)

All were good, but the best ones were Behold the Dreamers, The Hate U Give, The Poet X, and Queenpin.

Musically, three albums in particular grabbed me: Sundays by San Francisco musician Hannah van Loon, who performs as Tanukichan; Third by guitarist Nathan Salsburg; and Wild Pink’s Yolk in the Fur, with the latter being the one I was playing the most on the virtual turntable.

Forward to August

This month begins with a visit to my mother the first weekend for her birthday (it’s this Friday, but we’ll celebrate it on Sunday). I have the second Friday off as I work that Saturday at the library (has to do with the number of hours I work per pay period, they give me a day off before I work my one Saturday a month). I don’t know what we’re doing yet, but Kim and I probably will go on a day trip, maybe to the Corning Museum of Glass, maybe to Finger Lakes wine country. We’ll see what the day brings.

So how was your month of July? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What was the highlight of your month? What are you looking forward to in August? Share in the comments.

In case you missed it, yesterday I posted my thoughts on “The State of The Blog 2018,” in which I also decided I’m only going to post once a week here.