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.

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.

30 46 Days In The Hole

I’m forgoing my “normal” Pushing Forward Back post this month, where I look back on the past month, 30 days, and ahead to the next month. Instead, I thought I’d look back on my/our last 46 days under quarantine through photos.

The above photos were from the last couple of weeks of March. Roughly from top to bottom, they are:

  • The start of my staying at home from work when I learned that the library where I work would be closed until March 30, at that point. It now is “until further notice.”
  • A stack of books I thought I might have time or focus to read, but haven’t…yet and now I’m making my way slowly through the Sherlock Holmes short stories. I’m remembering that I read the novels previously, so I’m skipping them.
  • Schitt’s Creek is one of the TV shows my wife and I have been watching during the last 40-plus days. We haven’t seen the final season yet, but will see it when it comes to Netflix in mid-May.
  • I’ve been walking almost every day since the library has been closed. Not even rain has stopped me.
  • My sister was talking to our mother via Facebook Messenger and put some “makeup” on her.
  • I’ve participated in a few readathons over the last 46 days. The Social Distancing 24in48 Readathon was one of the first.

The above photos were from the first couple of weeks of April. Again, roughly, from top to bottom, they are:

  • A sign I saw on one of my walks before Easter.
  • A bottle of wine from our first order of wine from Three Brothers Wineries & Estates on Seneca Lake in upstate New York.
  • A box of fruit and vegetables from Misfits Market in New Jersey.
  • My Eucharist meal on Easter.
  • My wife Kim celebrating her 50th birthday with a pineapple upside down cake. I celebrated my 50th last year and we went to Seneca Lake. We had planned to go again for hers, but since that didn’t happen, hence the wine.
  • My dad and mom play the board game Aggravation with my sister and her family (they were in between houses at the time, one they were selling, another they were buying, and had to stay with my parents). Thanks to my sister Lisa for the photos of my mom in the collage above and my dad and mom here in this one.

The above photos are from the last couple of weeks here in April. From roughly top to bottom, they are:

  • One day it was nice enough to walk, then the next, snowstorm.
  • I participated but not very well in Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon on April 25.
  • While on a walk, I saw the chalk art and had to snap a photo.
  • I had wings from a local restaurant, The Wellsboro House.
  • My wife and I got together for a Zoom Happy Hour with her side of the family.

I’ll leave you with the song where I got the title from: