Pushing Forward Back September/October 2019

September started well as I had four days off for the Labor Day Weekend. To start the weekend, I read Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography, Born to Run, which continues my year of reading mostly great books. On the fourth day, Tuesday, my wife and I went on a day trip to Three Brothers Wineries & Estates, which includes three wineries and a brewery, and it was a beautiful day for it.

After tagging Three Brothers on Instagram before my birthday in June, they gave me two free tasting passports for five flights of wine, beer, and cider at each of the wineries and the brewery. The only thing we paid for was the gas to get there, our lunch at their restaurant on site and some wine that we got (but of course).

The following week, I had a follow up for my left knee after getting three gel injections at the end of July and start of August. As a result, I am having arthroscopic surgery on October 22 on my knee to check, and repair, if needed, my meniscus which was diagnosed earlier this summer as “degenerative” from osteoarthritis. This surgery is in addition to another medical procedure, a colonoscopy since I just turned 50 in June, that I am having on October 14 and a PSA (prostate-specific antigen) blood test I am having on October 15.

The third week brought a visit from Joe, a college roommate, mid-week during which we binge-watched the first season of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, available on Hulu. I had started watched it earlier in the week but when Joe told me he had seen part of it, but never got to see all of it, I stopped watching so we could watch together. However, once we started it, he realized it was another version, just called Dirk Gently, that he had seen, not this particular one. We enjoyed it, though I had never read the book, but it was, and is, very weird. I usually don’t “go” for that kind of weird science fiction “thing,” but I went with it and surprisingly liked it.

The fourth week, my wife and I celebrated Bruce Springsteen’s 70th birthday on Monday by watching his New York City concert from 2001. Then on Friday, I had the day off from work before working my Saturday for the month. On Friday, I listened to Sturgill Simpson’s new album Sound and Fury, which is very unlike his previous two albums, A Sailor’s Guide to Earth and Metamodern Sounds in Country Music. Sound and Fury definitely is that, full of the sound and fury of rock and roll, whereas the first two were country and, dare I say it, pop music.

Tomorrow, I plan on rounding out the month by going to a birthday party for my soon-to-be 5-year-old niece Grace. Her birthday is in the middle of the week so the party is tomorrow.

Also Read

  • The Curse of the Pharaohs, the second Amelia Peabody mystery, by Elizabeth Peters, which was good, but not as good as Born To Run.

Also Watched

  • Friday Night Dinner (3 seasons), with my wife – hilarious
  • Rocketman (movie), with my wife – very good
  • Booksmart (movie), with my wife – surprisingly good (a Superbad but with girls and funnier)

Also Listened To

  • Norman F***ing Rockwell by Lana Del Rey, out at the beginning of the month.

October is…well, I already told you about my surgery…event-filled. And while the main event, the surgery, isn’t necessarily fun, I believe it is necessary and hopefully will help alleviate the pain in my knee. The other event in the month to which I’m more looking forward to is Dewey’s 24 Hour Readathon, which is Saturday, Oct. 26. It also happens to occur during my two week convalescence after the surgery.

Topping the list are two books apropos for a weekend so close to Halloween:

  • The Unforeseen by Dorothy McCardle
  • The Night of the Hunter by Davis Grubb.

The first is a recommendation from a friend, who also recommended to me I read McCardle’s The Uninvited, her first novel, which I did and enjoyed. Now I’m going to give her second novel a go. The second is the basis for one of my wife’s favorite movies of the same name, starring Robert Mitchum…which I probably will find somewhere online and watch with my wife during my downtime.

Besides reading, and medical appointments and procedures, that covers most of my October, I think.

Also To Read

  • Less by Andrew Sean Greer, which I started earlier in the month.
  • The Lost for Words Bookshop by Stephanie Butland, which I picked up while “shelf-reading” at the library.

To Watch

  • Mindhunter, Season 2, on Netflix now
  • Good Omens, Season 1, on Amazon Prime now
  • Schitt’s Creek, Season 5, on Netflix Oct. 10
  • Letterkenny, Season 7, on Hulu Oct. 14

To Listen To

  • All Mirrors by Angel Olsen, due out Oct. 4
  • Ode To Joy by Wilco, also due out Oct. 4
  • Magdalene by FKA Twigs, due out Oct. 25

I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention one other book I plan on reading this coming month: A Story To Tell by my sister, Lisa Howeler. She self-published it and as of September 19, her birthday, it is available for purchase on Amazon. Oh, happy belated birthday, Lisa, if I didn’t mention it. 😉

How was your month of September? 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 October? Share in the comments.

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.