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 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:

Pushing Forward Back January/February 2020

January’s gone…with the wind, but it was a good breeze to start the year at least personally. I read three books, including my first book of the year. I also got a Mi Band 4, similar to a Fitbit, to help encourage myself to walk daily. And I found a new place to walk and read on Saturdays: the library at a local state university.

The three books I read (even though I inexplicably overlooked the second in a post about my second book of the year) were:

  1. Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
  2. A Call to Conscience: The Landmark Speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King, edited by Clayborne Carson and Kris Shepard
  3. Over My Dead Body, the seventh in the Nero Wolfe series, by Rex Stout.

I joined, and then “unjoined” after talking two other people into it, an online Haruki Murakami Book Club. I also joined the Poetry Reading Challenge 2020.

Watched

  • King in the Wilderness (HBO documentary about Martin Luther King, Jr.)
  • The Librarians

Listened To

  • The Undivided Five by A Winged Victory for the Sullen
  • Have We Met by Destroyer

February is starting slow and deliberate as I refocus my reading plans for the month and the year. I work two Saturdays this month, have off three Fridays (two before the Saturdays I work and another Friday, Valentine’s Day, as a vacation day) and am taking off Ash Wednesday as has been my custom for many years. My wife and I also will begin the month with our traditional watching of the movie Groundhog Day.

I think this year, though, while watching the movie, we are skipping the “sweet vermouth with a twist, please” and are going straight to “Jim Beam, ice, water.” We tried the drink Andie McDowell’s character Rita Hanson orders in the movie a few years ago and hated it, so we’re going with the first choice of Bill Murray’s character Phil Connors. Plus with the way, the month and year are starting politically, we believe we need a stiff drink. For that reason, we also are delaying our rewatch until Wednesday night – after the vote.

This photo pretty much captures how I feel about winter right now:

I’m feeling like Phil earlier in the movie:

It’s going to be cold, it’s going to be dark and it’s going to last you the rest of your lives.

But hopefully soon I’ll have his later perspective:

When Chekhov saw the long winter, he saw a winter bleak and dark and bereft of hope. Yet we know that winter is just another step in the cycle of life. But standing here among the people of Punxsutawney and basking in the warmth of their hearths and hearts, I couldn’t imagine a better fate than a long and lustrous winter.

Of course, the groundhog Phil today did predict an early spring, but as CNN noted: “Don’t get too excited, he’s usually wrong.”

To watch

  • The Farewell on Amazon Prime Video (Feb. 12)
  • Narcos: Mexico: Season 2 on Netflix (Feb. 13)
  • High Fidelity, the TV series on Hulu (Feb. 14)

To listen to

  • The Slow Rush by Tame Impala (Feb. 14)
  • Miss Anthropocene by Grimes (Feb. 21)

Oh, and obviously I’m not watching the Super Bowl. I had loose plans to go watch the Super Bowl with a neighbor, but as I’m posting this as the game is beginning, obviously the plans were loose. No biggie. I’d rather be reading.

Pushing Forward Back November/December 2019

November overall was good. I had a dozen blog posts here on the blog, including this one, eight of them with two different events: Nonfiction November, which ended earlier this week, and Thankfully Reading Weekend, which is still continuing through tomorrow. In addition to two days off for holidays, I had two days off for vacation right before my wife and I celebrated our 23rd wedding anniversary on the 23rd. We also watched two of the three things that I said last month we would watch: Good Omens, Season 1, and Brittany Runs A Marathon, both of which were very good.

However, the month was not without its hiccups, to say the least, including a trip to the hospital and a stay overnight for my wife in the middle of the month. The good news is that after a blood transfusion because of low hemoglobin numbers, and being on another medication to help, she is doing better…even though her numbers still are below normal. She also had nine days off from work, after her hospital stay, which she already had planned off as vacation days, but coincided nicely with her trying to regain her strength.

As for my own recuperation after arthroscopic surgery on my left knee at the end of October, I am progressing well. I still have slight pain from scar tissue that the physician assistant explains that I probably will have for a few months. But I have no limitations on what I can do, other than no deep squats or pivoting or “overdoing it.”

On the reading front, I talked a good game for Nonfiction November:

But I didn’t finish any books. I’m almost finished with The Lord God Made Them All (All Creatures Great and Small Book 4) by James Herriot, only one of 11 books I mentioned last month that I might read in November. I’ll probably finish it tomorrow for Thankfully Reading Weekend.

Blog post of the month

TV show of the month

  • Bess of Both Worlds (aka Upper Middle Bogan), on Hulu

Album of the month

  • MAGDALENE by FKA Twigs

December starts similarly to the last week in November, with a couple days off from work in the middle of the week this coming Wednesday and Thursday. Then at the end of the month, I have off three days for Christmas: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after Christmas and two for New Year’s: New Year’s Eve Day to usher out 2019 and New Year’s Day to usher in 2020. My wife works Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but midnight shifts both days so at least we’ll see each other during both days. Even though we won’t able to travel anywhere to see family, we should be able to have Christmas dinner together.

Unlike last month, where I listed all the possibilities of what I might read and then only getting to one of them, this month I think I’ll just list one book that but I’d like to finish before year’s end: Every Living Thing, the fifth and final book of the All Creatures Great and Small series, by James Herriot. That way, I’m not setting my sights too high.

Also in December, I am joining hosts Tanya and Kim along with other bloggers for the event A Month of Faves. I already have started a note in Evernote that includes ideas for the days and topics in which I will be participating. The first one is Monday: Popular Books Worth The Hype.

Most Anticipated Movie of The Month

This one from director Noah Baumbach, to be released on Netflix, Dec. 6:

Most Anticipated Album of The Month

Tunes 2011 to 2019 by Burial, also due out on Dec. 6, which features this track:

How was your month of November ? Read any good books, seen any good movies and/or TV shows, listened to any good music? What are you looking forward to most in December?

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.