My vacation is just getting going

Above is how long I am off from work in days, hours, and minutes. My vacation started today at 4 p.m. and lasts until noon at Monday, June 14.

My wife Kim is off too up until Thursday night/Friday morning.

So what do we have planned?

The short version is:

  • we are going on a day wine trip tomorrow,
  • then visiting with my parents, my sister and her family on Sunday,
  • and taking a two-day trip to Finger Lakes (in upstate New York) wineries midweek.

In between, we plan on watching some TV, mostly reruns of The Simpsons and Modern Family, but also Kim’s Convenience, bowing in its fifth and final season (sadly).

Reading? Maybe. I still have to finish Exit Strategy by Martha Wells and to start The Age of Doubt, the 14th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri. We’ll see how that goes.

The long version is:

  • For another time.
  • Another place.
  • Another blog post.

Until then…

The catching up post

So, this is a post where I’m catching you up on what’s happening with me and if you would like, you can catch me up on what’s happening with you in the comments.

When I last left you, I wasn’t in the frame of mind for reading, with the passing of my mother-in-law late last month and a memorial luncheon my wife Kim and her sister held for family and friends on May 20. Without going into details, the luncheon had its hiccups, but we all made it through, after some long talks and time. However, as a result, I’m still not really in the frame of mind for reading.

I still have Exit Strategy by Martha Wells to finish and am waiting for the next in order of the Inspector Montalbano series by Andrea Camilleri to become available at the Free Library of Philadelphia.

I also have Broken by Jenny Lawson on audiobook to finish, with about three hours left. I would like to finish that this weekend as I want to cancel my Audible membership to start the month, but we’ll see if that or any other literary pursuits happen.

In the meantime, Kim and I have been binge-watching our way through Modern Family. We are in Season 8 and I’ll be honest that I think it’s starting to “jump the shark.” Kim doesn’t think so and wants to continue on until the end. She also says “I always do this” with shows, that I give up on a show that we have decided to watch together.

Keeping it honest here, I have in the past bailed on shows that I lost interest in, but usually they have been shorter run shows. And, at least, in the case of one of those shows, she admitted that it wasn’t worth watching until the end because the conclusion was unsatisfying. However, I also have bailed on longer run shows, including the many iterations of the CSI franchise with sadly CSI: Miami being the one that I am closest to finishing.

Like with books, I think time is too precious to waste on something that you are not enjoying. For me, it’s not a badge of honor to finish reading something I didn’t like. I turned 50 a couple of years ago and am approaching my 52nd birthday in a couple of weeks. I think that changed my perspective some, in that if I don’t give a **** about something, then I don’t have to give a ****, if I don’t want to…at least when it comes to reading books and watching TV shows and movies.

Next week, I’ll catch you up on my plans for my weeklong vacation during the week on which my birthday falls.

Until then, I’m out…

Whassup with you?

Not in the frame of mind for reading

So as mentioned a couple of weeks ago (my post), my mother-in-law “passed peacefully from this life at home, surrounded by family” (obituary as it appeared in the paper) at the end of April after suffering from Parkinson’s for several years. This Thursday, May 20, the small gathering mentioned in the obituary will be held at a banquet room at a tavern in Delaware. As a result, I haven’t been, and am not, in the frame of mind for reading.

Not that I haven’t tried. I read half of one book Nöthin’ But a Good Time: The Uncensored History of the ’80s Hard Rock Explosion by Richard Bienstock and Tom Beaujour. I had been on hold for the book for at least a month, if not longer, after seeing Monika of the blog Lovely Bookshelf mentioning it on Instagram. It’s not that it was bad (ahem, Monika), it’s just that after reading the extensive oral history, I got, and was getting, it: sex, drugs, and rock and roll. I didn’t need to hear another story about how Jake from X band met Mark from Y band and then they went to form Z band, and then disbanded two years later to form “a” band because Jake or Mark was an a-hole or, as in many cases, both were, and still are. Maybe another time, but for now, I’ve had enough.

I’m almost at the end of Exit Strategy, part of The Murderbot Diaries, by Martha Wells, and not that it’s not good but I just am not in “the frame of mind” to finish it right now. Maybe this afternoon? But maybe not. My wife and I also began listening to Broken by Jenny Lawson, but we decided to stop so we could listen to a few hours on our way down to Delaware this week (we live in upstate Pennsylvania and it’s about a five-hour drive).

I have five e-books on hold at our library and the Free Library of Philadelphia, but most are several weeks out. The only one that I probably actually will read is The Age of Doubt, the 13th in the Inspector Montalbano series, by Andrea Camilleri. If that comes in this week, I’ll probably read that because it will be a nice escape to Sicily as the rest of the series has been so far this year.

So, if I haven’t been reading or not much anyway, then what I have been doing? My wife and I are making our way through Modern Family (now in Season 7, I think) and I’ve been watching reruns of Mad About You. I also flip through Pluto TV on our Roku, catching pieces of this and that, from Laverne and Shirley to The Carol Burnett Show to whatever other mindless TV I can find, old Saturday Night Live clips on YouTube. Nothing really is catching my attention on Netflix lately.

And, to be honest, I have been staring into the middle distance at times like this:

Last night, I must have been sitting for a good half hour before I realized that I wasn’t watching or listening to anything…and I wasn’t even meditating (GASP!).

Before you get too concerned, which we appreciate your concern, don’t worry. We’re managing the best we can, under the circumstances, and at least Kim and I have each other for support…and Kim has her sister and family too. We’re also stopping by to see a friend “downstate” on our way to Kim’s sister’s and it’ll be good to see him, and also family and friends of Kim’s mom on Thursday – so it’s not all bad. It’s just where we are…and where I am:

Not in the frame of mind for reading.

My love/hate relationship with audiobooks

I love them.

I love them not.

I love them.

I love them not.

Eh…I can take take or leave them.

This is my relationship with audiobooks. This past week, I’ve been taking them, or at least one of them, like medicine.

The previous week, Jenny Lawson’s book, Broken, came in from on hold in ebook from the Free Library of Philadelphia. When I finally had a chance to read it on Monday, I suddenly realized that I wanted to listen to on audiobook…or, to be more accurate, I didn’t want to have to read it to my wife, which I had started to do because it was so funny. So I got my umpteenth Audible trial so we could listen to Jenny tell her own story.

As I type this first draft, we are listening to her and it’s good, not always funny like this chapter, which is a letter to her insurance company. But it’s all good, in its own way, if for nothing but her honesty, which can be both hilarious and heartbreaking, sometimes all at the same time.

Jenny’s memoir isn’t the first “humor” book that I’ve chosen to listen to, and enjoyed. I think among my first audiobooks were by comedians, specifically comediennes:

  • Bossypants by Tina Fey.
  • Yes, Please by Amy Poehler.

My first audiobook, at least as an adult, probably wasn’t technically a book but a radio drama from the BBC of The Lord of the Rings, most of which we listened to on a trip to North Carolina years ago.

My first proper introduction to audiobooks came via Jennifer of the then blog The Literary Housewife. It was a group listen of James Bond books as read by Simon Vance, which was one of her favorite narrators. I still like Vance, and own one narrated by him: A Tale of Two Cities and another in which he is a participant of a group read: Dune. As they both are long, I have yet to get to them. Before you suggest that I listen to them on my commute to work, I’ll let you know my commute is five minutes. That said, we do have a longer car trip mid-month so maybe we’ll listen to one or the other on the way to and from.

Last year, I did listen to Vance’s narration of part of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, while walking around our neighborhood. During walks last year, I also listened to a public radio drama based on A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr. It was well done, but as it was apocalyptic science fiction, in hindsight, it wasn’t the best series to listen to at the start of a pandemic (in April and May last year).

Oh, I almost forgot but would be negligent if I didn’t mention that I also listened to The Poet X as read by the author Elizabeth Acevedo. It was great.

I already know some of you listen to audiobooks and love them and you’ll try to convince me to listen to audiobooks every day or at least on weekends. While I appreciate the thought, I’m not usually good at sitting down and listening to someone read to me for hours or even listening while doing something. However, I will ask all of you, if you read audiobooks, what are the one or two that I need to put on my bucket list to listen to as I do once or twice a year? If you don’t listen to audiobooks, why not? Maybe like me, you don’t have a long commute or a long attention span. Share your thoughts in the comments.