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.

My birthday month begins…NOW!

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before here on the blog, but next Sunday, I turn 50…

…and, as has become my custom, I celebrate my birthday not just for a day or a weekend or a week, I celebrate it…

ALL MONTH LONG!

That’s right. This year, I think with half a century in the rearview, it might just be worth the celebration. Throughout this month, I will share the party with my wife Kim (but of course), family, especially my parents (duh!), my sister, her family, and friends, especially all of you, with a giveaway of a few of my favorite books at the end of the month.

I am starting the month with breakfast today at my favorite breakfast place, Conspiracy Coffee, and lunch and dinner later with ribs that I will get there too. Unfortunately, my wife Kim won’t be able to join me since she worked a midnight shift this morning and then bookends it tonight with a 12-hour shift that goes into tomorrow. I am starting the month today with working at the library (hey, at least, I am with books) and then hoping to do all that stuff I crossed out in the previous sentence tomorrow. Then I’m starting off the week with a focus on my health:

  • on Monday, I’m going to physical therapy for my left knee that was bruised back in early March.
  • on Tuesday, I have an appointment with an orthopedic specialist to make sure that my knee is only a minor sprain/strain that the physical therapist and my nurse practitioner believe it is. Fingers crossed.

At the end of the week, we’re going to Smokin’ Summer Kickoff on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail, an event that pairs wine with food at 22 participating wineries, over three days, June 7 through June 9. Because I work Friday, we won’t be going up until Saturday morning, but we’ll actually be kicking off the weekend Friday night by watching Wine Country and Springsteen on Broadway. Even though we’ve read mixed reviews of Wine Country, we thought it would be appropriate to start with a movie about a group of women getting together to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. Whether or not the movie is good, we had t-shirts made, like the ones they have in the movie:

As for why we’re watching Springsteen on Broadway, Kim’s favorite musician is Bruce and we’re considering the weekend her birthday weekend too. Her birthday was in April, but she didn’t have the entire weekend off.

We already have our tickets for the wine event and are staying overnight Saturday night at The Gridley Inn in Waterloo at the top of the lake. Saturday morning, we’ll start from Catharine Valley Winery near the bottom of the lake, then wind our way up the east side of the lake to one non-participating winery, Three Brothers Wineries, which is one of our favorite wineries. On Sunday, we’ll start from Ventosa Vineyards still on the east side of the lake, then go down the west side of the lake, finishing at Lakewood Vineyards. Initially, I had planned for us to shuffle through playlists of our favorite musicians, a playlist of Springsteen’s first 12 albums on Saturday and then a playlist of U2’s first 12 albums on Sunday. But now I’ve made up a shorter playlist of some of our favorite albums, mostly from the last decade, with the playlist appropriately called “The Big 5-Oh”.

The weekend after my birthday is Father’s Day and I’m going to see my dad – and mom, of course, the people who…well…made my birth possible. That Sunday my sister, her family, and I are taking my dad to a Mopar Father’s Day Weekend Cruise-In at The Eagles Mere Air Museum and the Eagles Mere Auto Museum in Eagles Mere, Pa. The last two weekends? I’ll be honest I have nothing planned…well, at least as it relates to my birthday. On one of them, I’ll be going to my favorite breakfast place, Conspiracy Coffee, and then have lunch and dinner later with ribs that I will get there too. Unfortunately, my wife Kim won’t be able to join me since she works midnight shift Saturday morning and then a 12-hour shift that starts Saturday night and goes into Sunday. The other weekend? I don’t know yet.

In addition to the giveaway (details on how to enter, to be announced on my birthday), on the bookish front, I plan on continuing to read through the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot. I’m on the fifth in the U.S. version of the series, The Lord God Made Them All, and hope to finish the sixth, Every Living Thing, by the end of the month, if not by the end of July. Also during the month, I want to delve into Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman and All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver, two of my all-time favorite collections of poetry.

On my birthday next Sunday, I’ll be sharing photos throughout the day on Instagram via the hashtag #birthdayphotoanhour, started by @michelleerin and also done by @suzioregon and @florinda3rs, among a few others. Peek in on my celebration, if you like. Most likely I’ll be posting multiple photos every four hours instead of every hour on the hour as others have done. Less pressure to post and enjoy the day as much as possible.

Pushing Forward Back June/July 2018

Pushing Forward Back June_July 2018
At top is a photo from my sister of my mom holding a photo of me when I was a baby. At bottom left, I took my dad out for ice cream for Father’s Day. We were joined by my nephew Jonathan. At bottom right, Kim and I got a bathroom selfie before the wedding of her sister Tracey last Saturday. Photobombing us is her sister Debbie.

Back at June

June was a pretty good month on the personal front, especially for three weekends in a row. First, on Saturday, June 9, I celebrated my 49th birthday. Then on Sunday, June 17, I went and visited my dad (and mom), who lives about 60 miles away, for Father’s Day. I also was grateful to be able to see my sister, brother-in-law, 11-year-old nephew, 3-year-old niece, and their new almost 6-month-oldest cockapoo/Shetland sheepdog puppy. Finally on Saturday, June 23, Kim and I (along with family and friends) celebrated with her sister Tracey as she got married near Cleveland, Ohio.

Blogging-wise, it wasn’t a good month, but then again, I was busy with other things. Highlights on the blog this past month were 25 Things I Want To Do Before I Turn 50 and My Library Checkout June 2018. If you look at the list and wonder how I’m doing so far on doing some of those things, not great, but hey, I still have time to turn that around. We also got Hulu again and are enjoying watching especially older shows like ER, CSI, and My Name is Earl.

Musically, the two big albums this month were Kanye West’s ye and Beyoncé and Jay-Z’s Everything is Love — at least for everyone else. Spinning again and again, though, on my virtual turntable was Father John Misty’s God’s Favorite Customer. I just couldn’t, and can’t, get enough of this album:

Forward to July

This month starts off on a high, with three days off for both of us. Kim has her normal three days off: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, and I took vacation days for Tuesday and Thursday, having Wednesday already off as a holiday for The Fourth of July. After traveling last weekend, we have no plans of going anywhere, but it will be nice to have the time off together. I have a feeling we’ll be getting together with our neighbors for a cookout on the Fourth too, but we’ll see. If not, I’m sure we’ll still have burgers and hot dogs on the grill.

Other than that, I only can think of one other thing that I have planned: the 24in48 Readathon on Saturday, July 21, and Sunday, July 22, for which I’ve signed up. For more information or to sign up, click on the link.

At the end of the month, I’m looking forward to this movie:

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

25 Things Before I Turn 50

Today, I turn 49. As I approach half a century of life, here are 25 things I want to do before that milestone:

  1. Lose 40 pounds.
  2. Walk.
  3. Walk to work at least once a week during summer, fall, and spring.
  4. Run in one 5K.
  5. No food after 9 p.m.
  6. Go to bed by 11:30 p.m. each night.
  7. Wake by 8 a.m. each day.
  8. Alcohol only once a month.
  9. No soda except when having alcohol once a month.
  10. Read a book a week.
  11. Read 10 nonfiction books.
  12. Continue to play Solitaire and listen to chill music before going to bed.
  13. Sleeping with Bread daily.
  14. Along with SWB, photo a day of what most grateful for that day.
  15. Go to church once a month.
  16. Go on day trip once a month.
  17. Date night every pay week with Kim.
  18. Visit parents/sister once a month.
  19. Keep to blog schedule. Wednesday. Friday. Saturday. Sunday.
  20. Practice what you preach.
  21. Be quick to listen.
  22. Slow to speak.
  23. Slow to anger.
  24. Talk less.
  25. Smile more.

A few explanations:

Sleeping with Bread is a book by Dennis, Sheila and Matthew Linn. It starts with this story:

During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve. The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care. But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night. They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food. Nothing seemed to reassure them. Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime. Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace. All through the night the bread reminded them, “Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.”

From there, the Linns show how to set up a way of using The Examen from St. Ignatius each night by asking two simple questions: For what am I most grateful? For what am I least grateful? Those questions can be worded in other ways too, but the idea is each day to examine your day.

The “quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger” is inspired by my mother who often quotes this from the Book of James in the Bible, Chapter 1, Verse 19:

My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry,

The “talk less, smile more” is from the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” from the musical Hamilton: