Pushing Forward Back January/February 2019

January started well. I chose My First Book of the Year. I set 10 Goals As I Approach, and After I Turn, 50. I selected My One Word for 2019. The first Saturday of the month, I took my father out to lunch for his 75th birthday. The first Sunday of the month, I wrote The First Sunday Salon of the Year. By the end of the second week, I read My First Two Books of 2019. Then after a long absence, winter returned — with a vengeance. First, we got a foot of snow and then “dangerously low” wind chills for the fourth and fifth weeks of the month (when this post is published, we are expected to be in the worst of it).

The last weekend of the month, though, was a good one too as I participated in 24in48 and read 2 and 3/4 books over 11 hours. And all four books that I read this month were excellent. They were The Library Book by Susan Orlean, The 7 1/2 Lives of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton, Shale Play: Poems and Photographs from the Fracking Fields by Julia Kasdorf and Steven Rubin, and Born A Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah.

My wife and I continued to revel in Canadian TV as we watched more Corner Gas (on Amazon Prime) and more Letterkenny (on Hulu). We really didn’t watch a lot of movies, with probably the highlight of the month being a rewatch of Monty Python and the Holy Grail. As for music, I haven’t found a lot of new music, with only one highlight, the new album by Deerhunter, Why Hasn’t Everything Already Disappeared?

February begins tomorrow with more of the same: cold, cold, cold. But then the weekend shoots up to 30 degrees (Fahrenheit) and by Sunday, the high is expected to be 42. I looked at the forecast for the month ahead and the highs are in the 30s and even 40s at times, which I’ll gladly endure, but Spring cannot come soon enough at this point.

On the reading front, I start right out of the gate this Sunday with The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon. My wife works two 12 hour shifts on the weekend (Saturday into Sunday and Sunday into Monday) so since she’s sleeping during the day on Sunday, it’s the perfect time for me to read. I did get invited to a Super Bowl party at a neighbor’s, but since I hate the Patriots and I can be honest that I really don’t care for football, I declined. I don’t know yet what I’ll be reading, but I’m going to try to keep the streak of all five-star books alive. I’ll keep you posted here and mostly for the read-a-thon on Sunday on Instagram.

TV and movies? I took a vacation day for Valentine’s Day and Kim and I already have planned the night before as a “drink-a-thon” with a Rifftrax movie or two and maybe a new Mystery Science Theater 3000 and some random TV (probably more Letterkenny) and some other random TV thrown in. Why we’re doing it that way is because she has to work Thursday night into Friday morning, as usual.

As for the rest of the month, who knows? I’ll let you know what I’m doing when it get here.

So how was your month of January? 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 February? Share in the comments.

Update, Wednesday night, Jan. 30, 9:12 p.m.: Just received a text about half an hour ago from the director of the library where I work that we’re closed today because of the dangerously low wind chills.

Pushing Forward Back December 2018/January 2019

A look back at 2018 and a lot of Christmas.

I wasn’t going to do this post this month because of all the other posts I’m doing this time of year (best books, TV/movies, music of 2018 posts, plus two scheduled posts for tomorrow. But after reading Amanda’s December review post, I decided why not? So here goes:

Back at December

December came in like a lion and did go out like a lamb, as I predicted. It began with my working at the library during the annual Christmas event in our town, Dickens of a Christmas, where we had a book sale over two days. Not a lot of patrons came in, but a lot of out-of-towners, which wasn’t fun (apologies to the tourists). The next few weeks were uneventful as I thought too, with a staff Christmas luncheon the Friday before the second weekend. The highlight of the following week was a follow-up doctor appointment about my sleep apnea and my using a CPAP machine, with all my numbers still looking great: down from 87 events per hour to an average of 2 events per hour.

The month ended, again as planned, with a long series of days where I was on vacation and included my wife Kim and I visiting my parents (and sister, brother-in-law, nephew, and niece) on Christmas Day. Tonight, we’ll be going to the neighbors for a New Year’s Eve party, but will be back around 10 since they usually go to bed around that time. We’ll stay up to ring the new year in and then tomorrow I’ll be posting my first book of the year and my goals for 2019, the year I turn 50.

Since I already did my wrap for books, TV/movies, and music for the year, I’m going to keep it short on what I read, watched and listened to this past month. I don’t really have a choice with what I read since I read NOTHING this month. We discovered a couple of new shows: on Netflix, on our own, Derry Girls, which was really good, but sadly only one season; on Amazon Prime, thanks to my brother-in-law and sister, Corner Gas, which we have to watch together now. I gave a second chance to an album I dismissed earlier in the year, Tranquility Base Hotel & Casino by Arctic Monkeys after seeing it on a lot of year-end best-of lists and now love it. Jeff Tweedy also came out with an new album, WARM, which we only have started listening to, but already love too.

Forward to January 2019

January begins…well, tomorrow, with a day off with my wife. No concrete plans, other than day drinking and binge-watching. Then this Saturday, weather permitting, I’m taking my father, who lives about an hour and half away out to lunch for his 75th birthday.

The month ends with the 24in48 Readathon and I have several books from which to choose already. On the TV series/movie front, we’re looking forward to watching more Corner Gas and as for music, I’m not anticipating any new releases. We’ll see what comes along…as we will with the rest of the month and the year.

We knew we’d love this right from the start.

So how was your month of December? 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 January? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back October/November 2018

Back at October

In October, Kim and I went to dinner and a movie, I read three and a quarter books, I chilled with cheese, crackers, and wine, and Seamus chilled in a new chair.

The month began as planned with a three-day weekend, ending with Kim and I having our neighbor over for a Drunk History binge-watch/drinkalong. The month continued on track as I participated in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday, Oct. 20. I finished three and a quarter books in about eight hours:

  1. She Rides Shotgun by Jordan Harper
  2. American Street by Ibi Zoboi
  3. Normandy Gold by Megan Abbott, Alison Gaylin and Steve Scott (illustrator)
  4. Inspector Singh Investigates: A Most Peculiar Malaysian Murder by Shamini Flint (maybe I’ll finish before the end of the month)

But then after the month had been on track…

…although not quite that bad, as I believe, in the long run as a result, I’ll be back on track, but a different track.

The short(ened) version is this:

  • This past Monday night I did a home sleep study.
  • Tuesday morning I learned I have severe sleep apnea. I was set up for a hospital sleep study Wednesday night.
  • Tuesday afternoon I was called by the sleep lab at the hospital that they wanted me to get a CPAP machine the next day even before my sleep study. The medical supply store in our town only has a person from a neighboring town come to our town’s store once a week for CPAP fittings. That day is Wednesday, and the sleep lab didn’t want me to wait until this coming Wednesday for a machine since my sleep apnea was so severe.
  • Wednesday afternoon I got a machine and a mask.
  • Wednesday night I had the sleep study.
  • Thursday I came home with the machine and started using it that night.

My wife was diagnosed with atrial fibrillation last August and as part of her treatment, she was put on a CPAP machine which has helped her immensely. Since then, she has kept telling me that I have sleep apnea and that I should be on a CPAP. Obviously she was right. I now look forward to getting the help I need. Or perhaps I am being rerouted, as Deb mentioned in the comments (after I posted this initially):

“Actually, you were on the way to a train crash and now, with your new machine, you have been rerouted.”

Speaking of forward…

Forward to November

Unlike the last few months, my month doesn’t begin with a long weekend. However, it does end with a long weekend as I have off extra for Thanksgiving from Wednesday, Nov. 21, to Sunday, Nov. 25. Friday, Nov. 23 also happens to be our 22nd wedding anniversary. While my wife Kim isn’t off that day, she does work midnight shift so later in the day we will be able to go to dinner (of course, it also happens to fall on Black Friday, but we live in a small town so I don’t know how much that will really affect our plans).

Other than that, the focus (obviously) will be getting good, restful sleep. The long-term plan is also to lose weight, which I have gained considerably within the last couple of years. But to do that, I need the energy to be able to exercise. As for my diet, well…that’s a whole other thing, but I’ll also be working on that too. I will say, though, it’s not my wife’s home-cooked food that is the problem. It’s food (and drink) that I get on my own otherwise.

I’ll leave you with the song that has been in my head for the last few months and now it can be in yours too:

So 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 looking forward to in November? Share in the comments.

Pushing Forward Back September/October 2018

Back at September

Pushing Forward Back September October (1)

The month began, as planned, with a four-day weekend, but not as originally planned was a funeral with my aunt Eleanor passing away at the end of August 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 at the funeral on Sunday of Labor Day Weekend. Monday, I finished mowing the lawn before noon and then chilled “day drinking,” concluding with watching Drunk History with Kim, which has become somewhat of a Monday night tradition.

The first week of September ended with my college roommate Joe visiting us for a few days. As for the rest of the month, I worked two Saturdays this month and had one Friday off and a couple of days one week with shorter hours. I had planned to use that one Friday to go to the Corning Museum of Glass, fitting my goal of one day trip a month as outlined in my 25 before 50 post earlier this year. However, that didn’t happen.

I finished two books this past month: The Late Show by Michael Connelly and Bluebird, Bluebird by Attica Locke, both of which were good. Highlights on the TV and movie front were Kim’s Convenience and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, both on Netflix.

The month ends today with Kim and I going over to our neighbors for pizza. Earlier in the day, I’ll be watching NASCAR with my neighbor Mike and another neighbor Fred, and then later Kim and Mike’s wife, Kathy, will join us as we’re getting pizza for dinner. So the month will end with friends just as it began with family.

Forward to October

The first weekend in October is another long weekend for me as I took a vacation day off for Columbus Day, not because I am a fan of Christopher Columbus, but because I had a vacation day to use. In fact, I’m more in agreement with this image that my wife has on a shirt she wears often on Columbus Day:

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On that Monday, Kim and I invited our neighbor over for a Drunk History binge-watch/drinkalong. We attempted to have one last month but her plans changed a few times, but she has off that Monday afternoon and evening. We are caught up with Drunk History on Hulu so I think we’re going to pick out a few of our favorite episodes to binge-watch to introduce our neighbor to the show.

On the reading front, I’ll be participating in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on Saturday, Oct. 20. I don’t know what I’ll be reading yet, but I will keep you posted. On the TV front, I know I’m looking forward to the third season of Daredevil on Netflix.

So 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 looking forward to in October? Share in the comments.

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.

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.

Pushing Forward Back June/July 2018

Pushing Forward Back June_July 2018
At top is a photo from my sister of my mom holding a photo of me when I was a baby. At bottom left, I took my dad out for ice cream for Father’s Day. We were joined by my nephew Jonathan. At bottom right, Kim and I got a bathroom selfie before the wedding of her sister Tracey last Saturday. Photobombing us is her sister Debbie.

Back at June

June was a pretty good month on the personal front, especially for three weekends in a row. First, on Saturday, June 9, I celebrated my 49th birthday. Then on Sunday, June 17, I went and visited my dad (and mom), who lives about 60 miles away, for Father’s Day. I also was grateful to be able to see my sister, brother-in-law, 11-year-old nephew, 3-year-old niece, and their new almost 6-month-oldest cockapoo/Shetland sheepdog puppy. Finally on Saturday, June 23, Kim and I (along with family and friends) celebrated with her sister Tracey as she got married near Cleveland, Ohio.

Blogging-wise, it wasn’t a good month, but then again, I was busy with other things. Highlights on the blog this past month were 25 Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 50 and My Library Checkout June 2018. If you look at the list and wonder how I’m doing so far on doing some of those things, not great, but hey, I still have time to turn that around. We also got Hulu again and are enjoying watching especially older shows like ER, CSI, and My Name is Earl.

Musically, the two big albums this month were Kanye West’s ye and Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Everything is Love — at least for everyone else. Spinning again and again, though, on my virtual turntable was Father John Misty’s God’s Favorite Customer. I just couldn’t, and can’t, get enough of this album:

Forward to July

This month starts off on a high, with three days off for both of us. Kim has 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. After traveling last weekend, we have no plans of going anywhere, but it will be nice to have the time off together. I have a feeling we’ll be getting together with our neighbors for a cookout on the Fourth too, but we’ll see. If not, I’m sure we’ll still have burgers and hot dogs on the grill.

Other than that, I only can think of one other thing that I have planned: the 24in48 Readathon on Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, for which I’ve signed up. For more information or to sign up, click on the link.

At the end of the month, I’m looking forward to this movie:

So how was your month of June? 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 July? Share in the comments.