Here’s a rare thing on my blog, which shouldn’t be for a blogger who once upon a time identified himself as a “book blogger”: An actual update on what I’ve finished lately over the last couple of months and what I am reading now.
A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr. May 10
The Last Bow, the Sherlock Holmes short story collection, which also includes the short story of thesame name, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. May 29 – reading in the second volume of a collection of short stories and novels
Every Living Thing, the last part of the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot. June 14
Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary OliverStarted May 6
The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon Started June 6
To Be Read
The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle – which, when finished, will mean I have read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon by Doyle and also is in the second and final volume of the collection I’ve been reading from since last year.
For the last few years on Instagram, inspired by @michelleerin, I have been taking a photo each hour of my birthday with the hashtag #birthdayphotanhour. This year, since I haven’t been on Instagram in a while, I decided to do it here on my blog. I’m calling it #birthdayphotoanhoursortof because I don’t have a photo to share for every hour. Instead, I’m sharing these highlights from my birthday this past Tuesday:
All in all, it was a good day, being especially good to spend time with family for my birthday.
As I have done the last few years, I’m celebrating my birthday, which is June 9, all month long, starting today. Unlike last year, where I celebrated big for my 50th birthday with a few trips here and there throughout the month, including a weekend trip with my wife to wineries on Seneca Lake in upstate New York, this year understandably I’m keeping the celebration low-key. We only have one trip planned: next Tuesday, on my actual birthday, to visit with family about 60 miles away since the counties in Pennsylvania we live in have gone “green.” Of course, we’ll be practicing social distancing, but it still will be good to see them.
Other than that, I am off four days from work this coming weekend, with at least for June the library where I work being closed on Sundays and Mondays for quarantining items and cleaning of the building. I took Tuesday as a vacation day and just have Saturday off. We’re doing curbside pickup for now, if you’re wondering.
Other than that, for the weekend, I’m going to give myself a goal of finishing the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot that I’ve been reading the last few years. The last book in the series, at least in the American version, is Every Living Thing.
Throughout the month, I plan on continuing my phone-free Sundays. I also will be continuing to read the second volume of two of the complete Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories. Yesterday I finished the collection, His Last Bow, and now only have The Case-book of Sherlock Holmes left.
In terms of chronology in the canon, the short story “His Last Bow” is the last appearance of Sherlock Holmes and is after he is retired and living in the country. I think is a fitting end for Holmes, especially as the story is at the cusp of World War I and with Conan Doyle giving the detective perhaps the best lines of the canon, as he says to Watson:
“There’s an east wind coming…such a wind as never blew on England yet. It will be cold and bitter, Watson, and a good many of us may wither…But it’s God’s own wind none the less, and a cleaner, better, stronger land will lie in the sunshine when the storm has cleared.”
As for today, it is the end of my wife’s work week and the end of my weekend. So we’re keeping it chill here, as I’m extending my phone-free Sunday, and my wife is joining me. Our only exception is Scrabble Go. And even though we’re not going to wine country in New York this month, there will be wine, including today.
So I’ll leave with this ditty in celebration of wine:
Two Sundays ago, I tried something new: putting my phone in the desk drawer all day, with all notifications shut off except if a person calls twice within 15 minutes. Then I tried it last Sunday too. I had moderate success, only beginning to cave toward the end of the day to check my phone. So now I am going to do it again tomorrow to end the month on a lovely note and try to make it a tradition.
I should explain…or maybe I shouldn’t, but I will anyway…that for me a phone-free day does not mean a “media-free” day in terms of other devices or being unplugged. For example, tomorrow I plan on reading or continuing to listen to the Sherlock Holmes short stories to which I’ve been reading/listening on my Kindle. I might watch some movies or TV shows on one of the streaming services we have on our TV. I might listen to music on my laptop. I might mow the rest of the lawn that I didn’t finish earlier today with our electric mower (I’m kidding, we have a gasoline-powered mower, but I was trying to go with the unplugged theme).
My phone-free day definitely does mean a media-free day, no quotes, though in terms of news. For some reason, I’ve never been tempted to check news on any of the streaming channels on our TV or on my Kindle or on our electric mower that I don’t have. I only am tempted to look on my phone.
Also I might do all of those things mentioned above. I might do none of them. I don’t know yet. I just know that I won’t be on my phone so don’t call or text me, please. I’ll be “indisposed.”