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:

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.