Pushing Forward Back August/September 2020

Read

  • All Systems Red by Martha Wells
  • Artificial Condition by Martha Wells
  • Spiritual Practice for Crazy Times: Powerful Tools to Cultivate Calm, Clarity, and Courage by Philip Goldberg
  • The Case of the Famished Parson by George Bellairs.

Watched

  • Teenage Bounty Hunters, Netflix
  • Brassic, Hulu
  • The Brokenwood Mysteries, Hoopla
  • Rifftrax: Birdemic, Amazon Prime
  • The Last Dance, Netflix

Listened To

  • folklore by Taylor Swift
  • Welcome to Conceptual Beach by Young Jesus
  • Source by Nubya Garcia

Highlights of the month

My wife unleashes a smile after being released from the ER.
  • In bold in the lists above are my picks of the month as must-read, must-watch and must-listen-to. I didn’t pick folklore because it was too obvious and I wanted to highlight an unknown.
  • But more important than any of the literary, cinematic, or musical highlights above was the news that my wife doesn’t have covid. On the morning of Aug. 19, she woke up with symptoms (a headache, high fever, and body aches) and that afternoon was tested and received the results within two hours that she did not have the virus. She had a staph infection, which an antibiotic is helping with.
  • Another major highlight was on Aug. 15 when my wife and I visited with my parents to celebrate belatedly my mother’s 76th birthday on Aug. 3. We also visited briefly with my sister and her two children, who live a few miles from my parents. It was good for us to be able to visit with all of them.
  • At the beginning of the month, I was able to score a Biden yard sign to go along with our Black Lives Matter sign. We felt the need to counterpoint all the Trump flags on our street.

Ahead to September

Here on the blog, I plan on continuing my new feature My Own Personal Sabbath that I started last weekend. Since mid-May, I have been taking a break every Sunday from news and work to focus on reading, journaling, listening to music, and watching what I want to watch. It’s been going so well that I’ve decided to share what I read, journaled about, listened to, and watched that day with a follow-up post.

Off blog, I have no major plans for September other than a three-day Labor Day Weekend to start the month. With my wife working all weekend, we’re not going anywhere, but it just will be good for me to have a few days off from work. As usual, I’ll plan on reading, but I’m not going to lie: I’ll probably only do a little reading and end up much of the weekend binge-watching some silly TV series or Mystery Science Theater 3000 or Rifftrax movies.

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.

Sabbath #11

For the last 11 Sundays, I have been taking a break from my phone: calls, texts, and news for my own personal Sabbath. I have had varying degrees of success, but for most of the Sundays, I have kept to my initial intention to unplug for the day.

It all began with putting my cellphone in a desk drawer and has evolved into shutting off all notifications on the phone, only listening to music or audiobooks on it. I switched from a Kindle Fire, on which I still was tempted to look at notifications even though I had them shut off, to an older Kindle with no bells and whistles.

  • His Last Bow by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
  • Every Living Thing by James Herriot
  • Gold of Our Fathers by Kwei Quartey
  • The Rat That Began To Gnaw The Rope by C.W. Grafton (yes, father of Sue Grafton, but an accomplished writer on his own).

I also have watched three Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies, Creed 2, Rocketman (a rewatch), and The Princess Bride (also a rewatch, multiple times). I have listened to a best of 2020 playlist that I created on a free trial of Tidal, Sleepy Hollow on XPN from Philadelphia, and Guido’s Lounge Cafe on Mixcloud.

Today, the plan is to read Smallbone Deceased: A London Mystery by Michael Gilbert, a part of the British Library Crime Classics series. This follows my reading last week of the C.W. Grafton book that is part of the Library of Congress Crime Classics series.

This past week, I also decided to continue my subscription to Audible, even though I am an intermittent audiobook listener. However, I enjoy the free offerings they have too for members. For example, my wife and I both enjoyed listening to a Dr. Katz series, which started as a cartoon. I also have been listening to the Sherlock Holmes short stories and have a few other books already on audio for whenever I get to them. So I might listen to something later, but probably something short.

I’m not sure what I’ll watch yet, but I did purchase a streaming copy of Bowfinger and while this isn’t where I intended to leave off, I will, with one of my favorite scenes from the movie:

Mid-July Check-in

Since I haven’t been here or on Instagram in awhile, some of you have been checking in on me to see if my wife and I are okay, and while I’ve responded to some of you via e-mail, I haven’t responded to all of you. So here’s the breakdown:

  • We’re still here in northcentral Pennsylvania.
  • I’m still working at the library (curbside pickups and pickups and computer use in the building, all by appointment). My wife is still working as a 911 dispatcher for our county. Our respective families are well. Kim’s sister, mother, our brother-in-law and nephew had presumptive cases of covid-19 back in the beginning of April, but they’re all doing well.
  • We’re still reading.

Hey, let’s talk about that:

  • I’m still reading 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. I recently finished Gold of Our Fathers, the fourth in the Darko Dawson mystery series, by Kwei Quartey, and am planning to read Death by His Grace, the fifth in the same series, by Quartey.
  • UPDATE: As of early Saturday afternoon, I have abandoned this book after only a chapter. This one began with the focus on a couple, presumably one of them the victim or the accused of a murder to come, and not on Dawson as the first four in the series. I skimmed ahead, only to see Dawson is introduced after several chapters, and quickly decided I didn’t like the change of focus so “cut bait,” so to speak.
  • Kim’s finishing The Autobiography of Malcolm X, which she never read (!), and tentatively plans to read Breath: The New Science of a Lost Art by James Nestor next.

We’re watching a bit of this and a bit of that…

Together:

  • Parks and Recreation reruns
  • Drunk History reruns once a week, usually on Wednesdays
  • Brooklyn Nine-Nine reruns
  • Bob’s Burgers once a week for burger night on Fridays
  • Boyz n the Hood, which she’d never seen.
  • What We Do in the Shadows, the TV series.

Separately:

  • Kim: Recently finished Transparent on Amazon Prime and is making her way through Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix
  • Her must watch of the last few months: Pose, now on Netflix.
  • My must watch of the last few months: Ip Man 4, also now on Netflix.

We’re also listening a bit of this and a bit of that:

  • Me on constant replay: Fear of Music by The Talking Heads.
  • My pick of the year so far: Rough and Rowdy Ways by Bob Dylan.
  • Kim’s recent plays: Kind of Blue by Miles Davis and Eight Diagrams by Wu-Tang Clan.

That’s about it, or at least all I want to talk about for now. I’ll leave you with a photo from my walk this morning, the start of a three-day weekend for me as I’m off through Monday (new hours at the library, closed on Mondays for a deep cleaning of the building).

UPDATE: Saturday night I received an email from the Free Library of Philadelphia that a book I had on hold was now available. So now today, Sunday, I plan on reading The Rat Began To Gnaw The Rope by C.W. Grafton, a hard-boiled noir mystery, from The Library of Congress Crime Collection. And yes, he was related to the late Sue Grafton. He was her father.

Pushing Forward Back February/March 2020

Highlights from this past month: getting a new table for our kitchen, getting a romanesco cauliflower in our Misfits Market subscription box, Seamus (as usual), and the cover art for the book Blue Horses by Mary Oliver.

February found me finally reading poetry this past week after going back and forth whether or not I wanted to read it or not. I read two Mary Oliver books: Dream Work and Blue Horses, enjoying the latter more than the former. I also read two other books this past month:

  • Heaven, My Home, the second in the Highway 59 series, by Attica Locke.
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi,

enjoying the former over the latter with those two as Attica Locke continues to astound me with her writing.

I still am continuing to read the Sherlock Holmes novels and short stories and Pillar of Fire, the second in the America in the King Years series, by Taylor Branch, something I will continue into March.

Highlights of the month include our getting a new table set for our kitchen, our watching the movie Knives Out (which was very good) and having a day off this past and my taking the day off this past Wednesday for Ash Wednesday.

March: We have no special plans, but I am taking a vacation day for the first day of Spring, which comes this year on Thursday, March 19. If the weather cooperates, maybe I’ll get out for a hike that day in the nearby Pennsylvania Grand Canyon to celebrate the changing of the seasons.

The only other thing I know for sure that I’m adding to my reading for March is Lent Is Not Rocket Science: An Exploration of God, Creation, and the Cosmos: Meditations for 40 Days of Lent by W. Nicholas Knisely, the 13th and current bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Rhode Island.

On the TV and movies front, I guess the movie I’m most looking forward to seeing is Jumanji: The Next Level, which comes out on DVD and streaming on March 17. The first one was a pleasant surprise and I’m hoping the second one will be good too. Last month, we also watched the Zombieland sequel: Double Tap and enjoyed that so hope we will continue our success with sequels.

I’ll leave you with this, from my favorite contemporary composer:

Posts from February: