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.

60 days and counting…

On the day that I am posting this, Saturday, May 16, 2020, it is the 62nd day I have been mostly staying at home after the library where I work closed on March 15. Initially, it was closed through March 29, then “until further notice” after the governor of our state issued a stay-at-home order later in March.

Last Saturday, as planned, I finished listening to the end of a 1981 NPR Radio adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. Then on Sunday, I read A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr, a short novel that a friend recommended to me the previous week. Out of the two, I enjoyed the second more than the first, which in hindsight is because a post-apocalyptic radio drama during a global pandemic is not what the doctor ordered.

That said, I did enjoy listening to the radio drama, which was very well done, the last two weekends. So I think later today, after posting this, I’ll continue to listen to The Complete Sherlock Holmes: The Heirloom Collection, as narrated by Simon Vance, that I got as part of an Audible trial.

I’m not much for audiobooks, but several years ago, I first encountered Vance, thanks to Jennifer of the then book blog, The Literate Housewife, now on Instagram. I even got four audiobooks of him narrating James Bond novels by Ian Fleming, perhaps winning them? through a contest Jennifer was having (to be honest, I don’t remember). I also have two others narrated by him: Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, which I never have read, but want to…and maybe listen to…some day.

As for the rest of the week:

  • Tuesday: I had good sessions with my therapist and registered dietitian, with whom I already had started via video and phone before mid-March.
  • Wednesday: Kim and I went for a walk to Barbour Rock at the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon, which is near where we live.
  • Thursday: Kim and I had a “Zoom” with two of her sisters and their husbands to discuss the final season of Game of Thrones, which one of Kim’s sisters and her husband just finished watching. Bonus: Zoom gave us extra time so we were able to talk for an hour and half.
  • Thursday: We bought the final season of Schitt’s Creek on streaming so we don’t have to wait until October when it comes out on Netflix.

We plan on finishing up Schitt’s Creek on Monday, which will be apropos for me in light of what I am about to tell you. It was one of the first shows I began binge-watching (reruns up until this final season) when I entered what has been mostly self-isolation and now will be the show with which I end my own version of quarantine…

…because on Tuesday, I return to work at the library as we are slowly reopening in phases with the first one being the acceptance of checked out materials from the public, starting on Wednesday and running through Friday. I should note that my wife, a 911 dispatcher, has not stopped working at any point.

At the library, we also will be preparing for limited services, but not until we make sure we are following the guidelines for the “Framework for Reopening Public Libraries” as was released by the Office of Commonwealth Libraries, which is under the Pennsylvania Department of Education, only yesterday. The Framework, in short, provide guidelines to help ensure the community’s health and safety. If you really want to know more about the plan in our state for reopening libraries (and other businesses as well), I encourage you to check this link. I will add here, though, that I might not be able to answer your questions about the framework or our library’s own plans for reopening as I haven’t been back to work yet and I’m not sure how it is all going to “work.”

During the Zoom, one of my brother-in-laws, who also is returning to work next week, asked me if I was nervous about my own foray back into the work environment. I told him I was a little, but also excited, which is true. But I honestly can say that I just want our library to reopen limited services, such as curbside pickup, to start because I know it will benefit our community, both old and young (and yes, those in between too).

…bring May flowers?

This week was a busy one for me. From top left to bottom are highlights from my past week:

  1. Sunday: I took most of the day to listen to most of a 1981 NPR Radio adaptation of A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr. which I’ll probably finish later today after my wife goes to work.
  2. Monday: She and I started watching a Swiss series, Der Bestatter (The Undertaker) on MHz that we’re trying for 30 days. We’ve also been watching two German shows, Professor T. (a remake of a Belgian TV show of the same name) and Der Tatortreiniger (Crime Scene Cleaner). All three so far are excellent.
  3. Tuesday: I mowed our lawn for the first time this year and just in time as on…
  4. Wednesday: It rained, but I still got out for a walk.
  5. Thursday: I took a carload of recycling to our local recycling station that opened Monday; we got a new mattress, our first in 15 years (we are going to get a platform for it in the near future); and we got a delivery from Misfits Market early in the day that one of our cats, Alexandra, was very interested in.
  6. Friday: I got out for a walk earlier in the day before it started raining…and snowing.

Not pictured, I also:

  • Watched The Darjeeling Limited with my wife, one of the few Wes Anderson movies we haven’t seen, on Tuesday night. It was good, but still not our favorite by Anderson, which is Moonrise Kingdom.
  • Purchased a ebook copy of Devotions: The Selected Poems of Mary Oliver on Wednesday after it became available after being on hold from Free Library of Philadelphia for three months earlier in the day. I decided I might as well just buy a copy and read it when I want to read it and not feel pressured because other people are on hold.
  • Purchased a ebook copy of A Month in the Country by J.L Carr, a short novel that a friend recommended last week. He said he read it all in one sitting and I think I might try just that tomorrow.

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 short 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: