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.

Pushing Forward Back May/June 2019

May overall went as planned. At the beginning of the month, I watched Avengers: Endgame (awesome send-off) and got a new lawnmower; mid-month, my wife and I watched the end of Game of Thrones (a not-so-awesome sendoff BUT, in my wife’s and my opinion, overall a satisfying conclusion even if extremely rushed to get there) and now here at the end of the month, I am in the midst of a long holiday weekend. Initially, it was going to be a three-day weekend, but now it’s a FOUR-day weekend so I’m not complaining, y’all.

I am drafting this on Friday night, probably will publish this Saturday morning, and then settle in for the four-day holiday weekend, mostly with reading. I am continuing to read, and obviously enjoy, the All Creatures Great and Small series by James Herriot. I finished All Things Wise and Wonderful, the third book in the U.S. version of the series, earlier in the month and now am starting The Lord God Made Them All.

In addition to my regular Sunday Salon posts here on the blog, my wife and I also talked TV in back-to-back What We’re Watching Wednesday posts, first, my picks for short season shows and then her picks for short season shows. We also shared our favorite Mother’s Day movies.

June, which includes my 50th birthday on June 9, starts right out of the gate, almost in a gallop toward my birthday. Bang! First day of the month, June 1, I work at the library. Bang! First day of the first week, June 3, I have my first physical therapy session for my bruised left knee (since the end of March) at 9 a.m. Bang! Second day of the first week, June 4, I have an afternoon appointment with an orthopedic specialist to make sure the bruise isn’t something worse. I have been doing exercises as prescribed by a physical therapist who gave me an initial assessment too. He and my nurse practitioner believe it is a minor sprain and strain.

I had planned to go out for breakfast on June 1 to kick-start my birthday month, but then I was asked to work. At least, it’s starting with books ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ . It’s not all bad. Plus I have no doubt that I will be reading June 2, probably starting the final book in the Herriot series, Every Living Thing.

The highlight of the month comes the second weekend with Smokin’ Summer Kickoff on the Seneca Lake Wine Trail. The self-guided tour of 22 participating wineries includes a pairing of wine and food over three days, June 7 through June 9. We already have our tickets and will be visiting as many wineries as we can on Saturday and Sunday since I work Friday and we won’t be able to get up there until Saturday. I will share more of my plans for my birthday weekend at the start of that weekend.

The weekend after my birthday is Father’s Day, and I plan to get together with my father sometime over the weekend, even if it isn’t Sunday. I’m not sure yet if I might have to work yet on Sunday since our library added Sunday hours in April and there still (last I knew) a need for someone to work that Sunday. I’m also not sure what yet what we’ll do or if I’ll just go over to my parents’ house to visit with them both or if he and I will do something on our own or with my sister and her family too on Saturday.

In addition to planning on finishing the Herriot series, I will be having a book giveaway here on the blog. I plan on starting the giveaway on the day of my birthday and running until the end of the week? two weeks? month? I haven’t decided yet how long, or how exactly how I’ll do it, but I do have a pile of books ready to go. I also want to delve into All of Us: The Collected Poems by Raymond Carver, one of my all-time favorite collections of poetry, and on the last Sunday of the month, I plan on starting Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman, another of my all-time favorite collections of poetry. I thought it would be good to celebrate America with the Fourth of July coming up that following week.

I’ll leave you with my favorite song of the month, from possibly my favorite album of the month:

How was your month of May? 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 June? Share in the comments.

What We’re Watching Wednesday: The Short Season Shows, Part 1

Each Wednesday either my wife and/or I share what we are watching (either together or separately) in terms of movies and TV each week in a feature called “What We’re Watching Wednesday.” This week and next week, we are sharing our favorite short season shows (those shows with three or less seasons): me, this week; Kim next week.

The first one up for me is one that I’ve mentioned previously here: David & Olivia? Naked in Scotland. We saw a trailer for this and thought we definitely needed to watch this, so we did. We weren’t disappointed in the show itself, but unfortunately it’s only three episodes long. We almost wonder if the two creators, who also star in the show, aren’t hoping to sell the show to a larger network at some point. We sure hope someone picks it up, because it was, and is, really good. Edited one day later: Oops, the show just dropped a second season today on Amazon Prime Video. Edited one minute later (well, sort of, after looking at some reviews of the show online…not the show but on Amazon): There are two episodes missing of the second season. Looking up on IMDb, I see that’s true (averting eyes from seeing what the episodes are about…very, very carefully). Unfortunately, I still couldn’t find a trailer for this New Zealand show, but if you have Amazon Prime, definitely give the first season a try and we’ll hope Amazon Prime Video gets the last two episodes of the second season. Edited half an hour later: I did find this video that included clips of the show from the company, New Zealand Son Films, that produced the show.

The second one, Miranda, is both on Amazon Prime and Hulu. The show, only three seasons and 22 episodes, stars comedian Miranda Hart and is based on “her semi-autobiographical BBC Radio 2 comedy Miranda Hart’s Joke Shop (2008).” If you need joy, definitely try this one:

So how about you? Watching any good TV this past week? Movies you’d recommend?