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.

Pushing Forward Back July/August 2019

July (which I know isn’t over today, but close enough) was mostly work, work, work as I had two back-to-back six day work weeks, and while I said that because I don’t work that long of days, that I’d still have time to read as many books, watch as much TV and movies, and listen to as much music as I wanted, I didn’t really do that. However, I did…

  • Read two books, both during the 24in48 Readathon on July 20 and 21: Bruno, Chief of Police, by Martin Walker and The Essential Haiku: Versions of Bashō , Buson, & Issa, edited by Robert Hass. I probably will finish the second Bruno mystery, The Dark Vineyard, this afternoon.
  • Watched Season 3 of Stranger Things, more of the second half of Season 6 of Drunk History and a lot of different seasons with The Office with my wife; more CSI and CSI Miami by myself. I just finished Season 8 in each of the latter ones. We enjoyed Stranger Things, but as with many – at least of these limited run – shows, I liked the first season the best (the epitome of examples, for me: Daredevil on Netflix).
  • Listened to lots of chill music, including this mix by Philadelphia musician Ulla Straus:

On the personal front, I was approved by our insurance company for three gel shots for my left knee, two of which I had this month and the third and final one, next week. I also started physical therapy again and hope to be able to get into a regular routine (after some initial miscommunication and misunderstanding among our insurance company, our doctors’ offices, and ourselves).

August isn’t as heavy on the work front. The major events include celebrating my mom’s 75th birthday with a Southern Gospel concert in a nearby town and my wife and I going on a day trip to Seneca Lake in upstate New York for wine and whiskey. In addition, I would like to…

  • Read more Bruno mysteries. I also have On the Come Up by Angie Thomas, checked out from our library.
  • Watch Season 2 of Derry Girls (Netflix) with my wife. We loved the first season and are looking forward to this one.
  • Listen to the new albums by Sleater-Kinney and Bon Iver, The Center Won’t Hold and i, i, respectively. I also am intrigued to hear the debut album from 20-year-old Clairo (Clairo Cottrill), Immunity, out this coming Friday, Aug. 2. I’ll leave you with the first single she released from that album:

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

Addendum: I also wrote a post this past month in where I was being honest here again, but I lied. I said I wouldn’t be using bullet point lists anymore here on the blog, but as you can see from today’s post, that’s not true. The main thing, though, is I’m still keeping it short here.

Pushing Forward Back June/July 2019

June flew right out of the gate, as predicted, and never let up until this weekend. The first week started with a bang: work on the first Saturday, my first physical therapy session for a bruised left knee on that first Monday.

The second weekend, my wife Kim and I got away as we went on a self-guided two-day wine tour of Seneca Lake in upstate New York, as planned, in celebration of my 50th birthday on Sunday. The second week, I also was approved for for an MRI that I got at the start of of the third week. The MRI was negative for a torn meniscus, but I have a frayed meniscus and bad osteoarthritis for which I already got a cortisone injection and might be getting a gel injection in a couple of weeks when I have a follow-up appointment.

The fourth weekend, on Saturday, I worked, but then on Sunday, I visited my mother and father, the latter of which I went with to a car and plane museum, also with my 12-year-old nephew.

This weekend, I plan on chilling both days, maybe going to a nearby town for the birthday breakfast on Saturday I had planned to start off the month with but then had to cancel because I was scheduled to work at the library. Update: I did go out for breakfast Saturday morning. I also forgot until I read my last Pushing Forward Back post (did I reference that yet? hmmm) that I also planned on starting Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, another of my all-time favorite collections of poetry. So I’ll still do that as I thought, and still think, it would be good to celebrate America with the Fourth of July coming up this week.

AND lest I forget, I promised a giveaway of books at the end of my birthday month. I am doing that today from midnight today, Sunday, June 30, 2019, to 11:59 a.m. tonight, Eastern Daylight Time. Go to this post to find out how to enter for the giveaway. I am posting it at the same time as this one.

As for what books I finished this month, I read Digital Minimalism: Choosing a Focused Life in a Noisy World by Cal Newport and Ratking by Michael Dibdin. Both were okay, with Ratking being the better of the two. On the TV/movie side of things, the best thing we watched all month was Springsteen on Broadway, available on Netflix. Music-wise, the best music I heard all month was Prince’s Originals, a mostly previously unreleased collection of songs he wrote for others.

If you’re skimming this, the short takeaway from June is this: My wife and I celebrated my 50th birthday with a wine trip and visiting with my mom and dad, my MRI turned out negative for a torn meniscus, and I read two books.

AND GIVEAWAY!

July begins sort of oddly as I work the first three days, have a day off (thank you to our Founding Fathers), then work Friday before having off again for the weekend. I thought about trying to take off Friday, but a coworker beat me to the punch and got that day off. However, I’m not sad as she does a lot and deserves the time off and I had a long weekend for my birthday in June.

The rest of the month work-wise settles into a routine of six days in a row, as I work the two middle Saturdays, the 13th and 20th. Lest you feel too badly for me, I don’t work eight hours any day, with some as little as 4 and 1/2 hours…

So in other words, I’ll have time to read as many books, watch as much TV and movies, and listen to as much music as I want.

Reading: In June, I planned on finishing the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot, with The Lord God Made Them All and Every Living Thing. I also planned on reading All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver, one of my all-time favorite collections of poetry. But as with a lot of things in June, those didn’t happen, so I’m putting on hold (figuratively, not literally) the Herriot series until later in the year and yet still plan on reading the Carver collection over this coming month. Other than that, the only thing on my radar is the second Aurelio Zen mystery by Michael Dibdin, Vendetta, since I enjoyed the first one.

Watching: In July, Kim and I only have one major thing we want to watch together: the third season of Stranger Things. Other than that, I am interested in seeing Spider-Man: Far From Home, The Lion King, and Once Upon A Time in Hollywood, although really with my working two Saturdays this month, I might only get to one of the trio in the theater. On the minor front, we’re looking forward to watching the second half of the sixth season of Drunk History.

Listening: Just doing a quick search online, I only found one album that I’m really looking forward to: EGOLI by Africa Express. The group is “a UK based non-profit organization which facilitates cross-cultural collaborations between musicians in African, Middle Eastern, and Western countries” and was started by Blur and Gorillaz lead singer Damon Albarn and journalist Ian Birrell. I loved their album, Terry Riley in C Mali, and am very much looking forward to this one:

If you’re skimming this, the short takeaway for July is I plan on reading poetry, watching Stranger Things, Season 3, with my wife, and listening to cool world music.

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