My Own Personal Sabbath #19

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I tune out of the news and social media and turn off my ringer and all notifications on my phone. This Sunday, I try something new, checking in here on the blog every few hours during the day.

Today began with dishes. Not the most glamorous thing, but there you go. That’s how it started. It is now 10:45 a.m. and I’ve had a bowl of Special K Red Berries with with added fresh strawberries and a hint of cane sugar with soy milk. I’m drinking an iced coffee and listening to this, a show I often listen to on Sunday mornings:

Today, I plan on reading The Thin Man by Dashiell Hammett after a friend mentioned the movie series and I realized I never had read any of the books. I was on hold for an ebook version at the Free Library of Philadelphia, but the wait was a few weeks. Then I remembered that our library probably had a copy. We didn’t, but it is in a Library of America Collection of Hammett’s novels we have. The print is small, but not as small as I thought so hopefully I’ll be okay.

Other than that, I’m not sure what I’ll be doing. It’s supposed to be rainy all day so I’m glad I got a walk in yesterday. Actually I went on two walks: the first, a meditative walk using an app called Insight Timer; the second, a walk to Dollar General down the street to get new sponges and cat litter (I know, my life IS exciting!). I might watch something fun later with Kim once she gets up. As a 911 dispatcher, she normally works a 12-hour shift from Saturday into Sunday and then another one tonight into tomorrow, so she’s sleeping now. Check in with y’all later this afternoon. Until then….


It’s now about 1:45 p.m. and I’m about halfway through The Thin Man. Overall, it’s good so far, except one strange diversion to an encyclopedia-like entry about cannibalism in the Old West in the late 1800s. Otherwise, I’m enjoying it. I’m about to have an omelette on a tortilla wrap and a glass of wine (hey, don’t judge me, it’s the weekend).


6 p.m., and I just finished The Thin Man, which was good if not great, after a short nap. In the notes to the collection, I learned, among other things, that the book wasn’t the first in a series and actually was the last novel he wrote. I’m now signing off to eat dinner with Kim before she goes to work.


It’s almost 9 p.m. and I’m now watching Eureka. I think I remember where I left off years ago, in Season 3, so I’m picking up there…or about there.

My Own Personal Sabbath #18

From a journal entry about 20 minutes ago:

Today I read the first Albert Campion mystery, The Crime at Black Dudley, by Margery Allingham and started the second one, Mystery Mile. I also finished The Case-Book of Sherlock Holmes, the last Sherlock Holmes collection of short stories. It also is the last one in a two-volume collection of the Holmes short stories and novels that I slowly had been making my way through over the last couple of years.

I had to return a book I bought on Kindle because the formatting was off. It’s the second book within the last month I’ve had to return for a refund; the first, a book riddled with typos.

I’m just finished watching the end of an Endeavour episode and just started another. The one I just finished was probably the best writing I read all day. And since I put on the closed captioning, it was reading. 

My Own Personal Sabbath #17

Every Sunday since mid-May 2020, I have been taking my own personal Sabbath, where I turn off my phone and its notifications. What follows is what I read, watched, listened to, or did this past Sunday.

Yesterday reading-wise I never really latched onto anything. I abandoned three books and then even when I finally found a book to end the day with, I’m not sure if I’ll finish it or not. First, the books I abandoned were:

  • The Expendable Man by Dorothy B. Hughes
  • Devotions: Selected Poems by Mary Oliver
  • From Doon with Death by Ruth Rendell.

The book I ended the day with was Misterioso by Arne Dahl, the first in the Swedish crime writer’s Intercrime series.

It also wasn’t that any of the books were “bad,” but that they just didn’t work for me, at least at this time:

  • The book by Hughes was written in 1963 and recently republished as part of the New York Review of Books Classics series. I saw where it was going and decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to read right now.
  • Last year, I borrowed Mary Oliver’s collection of her own poetry over 50 years from the Free Library of Philadelphia, then purchased it this year when I knew I’d want to take more time with it. Since buying it, I have been slowly making my way through it, usually reading some each Sunday. The book is arranged from her later books to her earlier books and I’m about halfway through. I think I like her later works better as I believe in the beginning, she comes across as too didactic. I’ll probably return to the book at some time, but for now, I’m putting it aside.
  • I thought I might like to try Rendell’s Chief Inspector Rexford mystery series, but I have a few noir classics that I have on hold and rather would get to first. So for now, this series is being put on the back burner.

I had better luck later in the day with choosing a couple of movies from Starz to which I have a discounted subscription until Friday: Field of Dreams and The Man from Snowy River, the former which is one of my all-time favorite movies. I then thought about watching Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid, but then saw an American Experience episode about the notorious pair of outlaws that was short and watched that instead since it already was 10:30 p.m. The episode was fascinating (among the things that I learned were that Butch Cassidy was not his real name and The Sundance Kid was born in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania) and I highly recommend it if you have Prime Video, which is where I watched it.

Next Sunday I’ll be in the middle of a three-day weekend, but my wife is working all weekend so no special plans. I’m not sure what I’ll be reading or watching or listening to doing yet, but you’ll hear about in the next installment of…My Own Personal Sabbath.

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.