Pushing Forward Back November/December 2019

November overall was good. I had a dozen blog posts here on the blog, including this one, eight of them with two different events: Nonfiction November, which ended earlier this week, and Thankfully Reading Weekend, which is still continuing through tomorrow. In addition to two days off for holidays, I had two days off for vacation right before my wife and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary on the 23rd. We also watched two of the three things that I said last month we would watch: Good Omens, Season 1, and Brittany Runs A Marathon, both of which were very good.

However, the month was not without its hiccups, to say the least, including a trip to the hospital and a stay overnight for my wife in the middle of the month. The good news is that after a blood transfusion because of low hemoglobin numbers, and being on another medication to help, she is doing better…even though her numbers still are below normal. She also had nine days off from work, after her hospital stay, which she already had planned off as vacation days, but coincided nicely with her trying to regain her strength.

As for my own recuperation after arthroscopic surgery on my left knee at the end of October, I am progressing well. I still have slight pain from scar tissue that the physician assistant explains that I probably will have for a few months. But I have no limitations on what I can do, other than no deep squats or pivoting or “overdoing it.”

On the reading front, I talked a good game for Nonfiction November:

But I didn’t finish any books. I’m almost finished with The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot, only one of 11 books I mentioned last month that I might read in November. I’ll probably finish it tomorrow for Thankfully Reading Weekend.

Blog post of the month

TV show of the month

  • Bess of Both Worlds (aka Upper Middle Bogan), on Hulu

Album of the month

  • MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs

December starts similarly to the last week in November, with a couple days off from work in the middle of the week this coming Wednesday and Thursday. Then at the end of the month, I have off three days for Christmas: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas and two for New Year’s: New Year’s Eve Day to usher out 2019 and New Year’s Day to usher in 2020. My wife works Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but midnight shifts both days so at least we’ll see each other during both days. Even though we won’t able to travel anywhere to see family, we should be able to have Christmas dinner together.

Unlike last month, where I listed all the possibilities of what I might read and then only getting to one of them, this month I think I’ll just list one book that but I’d like to finish before year’s end: Every Living Thing, the fifth and final book of the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot. That way, I’m not setting my sights too high.

Also in December, I am joining hosts Tanya and Kim along with other bloggers for the event A Month of Faves. I already have started a note in Evernote that includes ideas for the days and topics in which I will be participating. The first one is Monday: Popular Books Worth The Hype.

Most Anticipated Movie of The Month

This one from director Noah Baumbach, to be released on Netflix, Dec. 6:

Most Anticipated Album of The Month

Tunes 2011 to 2019 by Burial, also due out on Dec. 6, which features this track:

How was your month of November ? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What are you looking forward to most in December?

Pushing Forward Back October/November 2019

October was mostly a medical month for me: a colonoscopy (my first, yay) on Oct. 14, followed by a blood test on my prostate on Oct. 15, and then on Oct. 22 an arthroscopic surgery on my left knee for a small tear of the meniscus. The short of it is this: one polyp removed, all good on the blood test, and a small mass of torn meniscus removed and cartilage smoothed during the surgery.

But the month also included two book blogging events in which I was able to participate partially as the result of recuperating since my surgery: Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon last Saturday, Oct. 26, and Nonfiction November, which started this past Monday, Oct. 28. Before the readathon, I read two books:

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which I started earlier in September.
  • The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, which I picked up while “shelf-reading” at the library.
  • A Story To Tell by my sister Lisa Howeler 
  • The Best American Poetry 2014 by series editor David Lehman and guest editor Terrance Hayes

I started the month out with a couple of ideas for the readathon, then I changed my mind later to start with a clean slate and ended up with a different list of possibilities. When I finally did the readathon last Saturday, I finished two books:

  • The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway 
  • The Score by Richard Stark 

I also started a third that I just finished last night: Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story of Hemingway’s Masterpiece The Sun Also Rises by Lesley M.M. Blume. While overall I enjoyed this one, my favorite for the month probably was the book it was about: The Sun Also Rises. I had forgotten how much I like Hemingway’s sparse prose.

As for Nonfiction November, on Monday, I looked back at my year in nonfiction and picked my favorite nonfiction book of the year. Then over the next four weeks, I’ll be posting on prompts from the event. To see more about the event, see this post from one of the hosts, Julie, from the blog Julz Reads.

Also watched

  • Mindhunter, Season 2, on Netflix
  • Schitt’s Creek, Season 5, on Netflix
  • Letterkenny, Season 7, on Hulu
  • Narcos Mexico, Season 1, on Netflix

& listened to

  • All Mirrors by Angel Olsen,
  • Ode To Joy by Wilco
  • Crush by Floating Points

But my favorite new show, to me, has to be hands down: The Brokenwood Mysteries, of which I watched Series 1 earlier this month and reviewed briefly here. I am looking forward to watching more in November via Hoopla.

November starts with more recuperation, at least for this weekend, before I head back to work at the library on Monday. Also on Monday, I continue with Nonfiction November, which I will be doing throughout the month. The middle to end of the month promises days off for Thanksgiving and possibly for our anniversary the week before (I put in for a couple days before I left, but I won’t know if I got them until I return on Monday). If she still is doing it this year, I also hope to be participating in Thankfully Reading Weekend with Jenn of Jenn’s Bookshelves over Thanksgiving.

Among possibilities of what I might read this coming month are the following:

  • A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
  • For Whom The Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
  • The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
  • Heaven, My Home (A Highway 59 Mystery Book 2) by Attica Locke
  • Orphan X (Orphan X, #1) by Gregg Hurwitz
  • Ruth Galloway Series: The First Three Novels by Elly Griffiths
  • The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot
  • The Cuckoo’s Calling (Cormoran Strike Book 1) by Robert Galbraith
  • A Morbid Taste for Bones (The Chronicles of Brother Cadfael Book 1) by Ellis Peters.

To watch

  • The Irishman on Netflix
  • Brittany Runs A Marathon on Amazon Prime
  • Good Omens, Season 1, on Amazon Prime

& To listen to

  • MAGDALENE by FKA twigs, due out on Nov. 8
  • Miss_Anthrop0cene by Grimes, hopefully out in November

How was your month of October? 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 most looking forward to in November? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2019

September started well as I had four days off for the Labor Day Weekend. To start the weekend, I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, which continues my year of reading mostly great books. On the fourth day, Tuesday, my wife and I went on a day trip to Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, which includes three wineries and a brewery, and it was a beautiful day for it.

After tagging Three Brothers on Instagram before my birthday in June, they gave me two free tasting passports for five flights of wine, beer, and cider at each of the wineries and the brewery. The only thing we paid for was the gas to get there, our lunch at their restaurant on site and some wine that we got (but of course).

The following week, I had a follow up for my left knee after getting three gel injections at the end of July and start of August. As a result, I am having arthroscopic surgery on October 22 on my knee to check, and repair, if needed, my meniscus which was diagnosed earlier this summer as “degenerative” from osteoarthritis. This surgery is in addition to another medical procedure, a colonoscopy since I just turned 50 in June, that I am having on October 14 and a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test I am having on October 15.

The third week brought a visit from Joe, a college roommate, mid-week during which we binge-watched the first season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, available on Hulu. I had started watched it earlier in the week but when Joe told me he had seen part of it, but never got to see all of it, I stopped watching so we could watch together. However, once we started it, he realized it was another version, just called Dirk Gently, that he had seen, not this particular one. We enjoyed it, though I had never read the book, but it was, and is, very weird. I usually don’t “go” for that kind of weird science fiction “thing,” but I went with it and surprisingly liked it.

The fourth week, my wife and I celebrated Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday on Monday by watching his New York City concert from 2001. Then on Friday, I had the day off from work before working my Saturday for the month. On Friday, I listened to Sturgill Simpson’s new album Sound and Fury, which is very unlike his previous two albums, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sound and Fury definitely is that, full of the sound and fury of rock and roll, whereas the first two were country and, dare I say it, pop music.

Tomorrow, I plan on rounding out the month by going to a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old niece Grace. Her birthday is in the middle of the week so the party is tomorrow.

Also Read

  • The Curse of the Pharaohs, the second Amelia Peabody mystery, by Elizabeth Peters, which was good, but not as good as Born To Run.

Also Watched

  • Friday Night Dinner (3 seasons), with my wife – hilarious
  • Rocketman (movie), with my wife – very good
  • Booksmart (movie), with my wife – surprisingly good (a Superbad but with girls and funnier)

Also Listened To

  • Norman F***ing Rockwell by Lana Del Rey, out at the beginning of the month.

October is…well, I already told you about my surgery…event-filled. And while the main event, the surgery, isn’t necessarily fun, I believe it is necessary and hopefully will help alleviate the pain in my knee. The other event in the month to which I’m more looking forward to is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, which is Saturday, Oct. 26. It also happens to occur during my two week convalescence after the surgery.

Topping the list are two books apropos for a weekend so close to Halloween:

  • The Unforeseen by Dorothy McCardle
  • The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.

The first is a recommendation from a friend, who also recommended to me I read McCardle’s The Uninvited, her first novel, which I did and enjoyed. Now I’m going to give her second novel a go. The second is the basis for one of my wife’s favorite movies of the same name, starring Robert Mitchum…which I probably will find somewhere online and watch with my wife during my downtime.

Besides reading, and medical appointments and procedures, that covers most of my October, I think.

Also To Read

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which I started earlier in the month.
  • The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, which I picked up while “shelf-reading” at the library.

To Watch

  • Mindhunter, Season 2, on Netflix now
  • Good Omens, Season 1, on Amazon Prime now
  • Schitt’s Creek, Season 5, on Netflix Oct. 10
  • Letterkenny, Season 7, on Hulu Oct. 14

To Listen To

  • All Mirrors by Angel Olsen, due out Oct. 4
  • Ode To Joy by Wilco, also due out Oct. 4
  • Magdalene by FKA Twigs, due out Oct. 25

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other book I plan on reading this coming month: A Story To Tell by my sister, Lisa Howeler. She self-published it and as of September 19, her birthday, it is available for purchase on Amazon. Oh, happy belated birthday, Lisa, if I didn’t mention it. 😉

How was your month of September? 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 most looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back August/September 2019

August was full of mostly medical appointments for me, 10 in all, among them, doctor appointments, physical therapy sessions, and a community multidiagnostic blood analysis. But I was able to…

Read

  • The Dark Vineyard, the second Bruno, Chief of Police mystery, by Martin Walker
  • Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay
  • Travels with Charley: In Search of America by John Steinbeck
  • The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware

The first three were with the help of Dewey’s 24 Hour Reverse Readathon on the first weekend of the month. The best of the four, far and away, was Gay’s memoir, although I enjoyed a reread of Travels with Charley and a first read of The Death of Mrs. Westaway.

Watch

  • The Orville: I decided to give it a try and was so pleasantly surprised by it that I convinced my wife to start watching it with me.
  • What We Do In The Shadows (the TV show): We binge-watched the first season last week and loved every minute of it. If you haven’t seen the movie on which it is based, see it first. If you like that, you’ll love this.
  • This Way Up: A short British show, from Irish comedian and writer Aisling Bea, about a woman recovering from a nervous breakdown.

We watched all three on Hulu, with our favorite far and away What We Do in the Shadows. We still have to get back to more of The Orville.

Oh, yeah, we also watched Woodstock: 3 Days of Peace and Music, The Director’s Cut, on August 15, the 5oth anniversary of the start of Woodstock. We were going to go to a local venue where they were going to show it, but then opted to just watch it at home, via streaming, on Google Play Movies. It was great.

Listen To

  • the new album i, i by Bon Iver, which “dropped” early on Aug. 9 instead of being released on Aug. 30 as initially scheduled.
  • the first album from Raphael Saadiq in eight years, Jimmy Lee, named for a brother who overdosed in the 1990s. I first discovered Saadiq as a member of Tony! Toni! Toné! and then his last album, Stone Rollin’, and am glad I’m rediscovering him.
  • the new album, Norman Fucking Rockwell, by Lana Del Rey, which dropped yesterday.

I’m still deciding which I like best, but because I’ve listened to it so much already, it’s probably i, i.

We were supposed to go on a day trip to Three Brothers Winery on Seneca Lake, but that didn’t work out for August. But we were able to visit with my parents, sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece one Saturday for a picnic before they went to a Southern Gospel concert. And on my own, I had a day in a nearby town, where I had a cheesesteak from a local food truck and got several pairs of shorts and some shirts at Goodwill, with all of the clothes for under $20.

September should be less medical appointments for me as I am done with physical therapy. However, I still have at least two. I have a six-week follow up for my left knee after getting three gel injections at the end of July and start of August. I also have a colonoscopy as I just turned 50 in June…and a test for my prostate.

I am starting the month off with a four-day holiday weekend as the library is closed Monday and I took off Tuesday as a vacation day during which we are going to take that day trip to Three Brothers Wineries on Seneca Lake that we didn’t in August.

The week before I went on my 50th birthday wine trip in June, Three Brothers sent me a private message on Instagram that they’d send me a free gift since I had tagged them in a post that the winery was one of the wineries we were going to go to. Unfortunately, I didn’t see the message until that weekend, but they mailed me the following week a gift of two free flights for each of their three wineries. If we don’t go this weekend, I have a feeling we won’t go this year so we’re doing it.

As for the rest of my plans for not only this weekend, but this month, here is what I want to…

Read

  • Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen, which I started last weekend after committing to getting real during my #fakereadathons and will be continuing this weekend.
  • Becoming by Michelle Obama
  • We Were Eight Years in Power: An American Tragedy by Ta-Nehisi Coates.
  • The Lord God Made Them All by James Herriot.

I think I’ll keep it to that short list, although I might get to more, but we’ll see.

Watch

  • The Middle, which I just discovered via IMDb TV on Amazon Prime and my wife and I are enjoying watching even with the commercials.
  • Good Omens, which we still have yet to watch. We both loved the book by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.
  • Mindhunter, Season 2: Even though my wife doesn’t like shows like Criminal Minds, she did like this one in its first season and so did I, so hopefully we’ll get to this this month.

Listen To

I’m not really sure yet, beyond delving into Lana Del Rey’s new album, from which I’ll leave you with this track:

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 most looking forward to in September? Share in the comments.