Sunday, January 30, 2022

Life: It Goes On - January 30

Happy Sunday! For my friends and family on the East coast, how are you faring with the blizzard? Hoping you have not lost power and don't have to go out until the roads are safe. Here we are snow free and starting to worry that we are not getting enough moisture. I don't know that we've had a foot of snow altogether yet this winter. I say that hoping that I haven't jinxed us one way or the other! I must say, I have enjoyed not having to battle snowy roads at rush hour yet this year. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I finally finished One Day In December when it became available again and then listened to Cloud Cuckoo Land. But now Bewilderment became available again so I'll have to take a break to finish that one up. 

Watched: Basketball, football, CBS Sunday morning and the first episode of the new season of Resident Alien

Read: I've slowed down on reading some this week, what with working extra hours in the evenings. But I should finish The London House yet today and then I'm on to John Banville's April In Spain

Made: The Big Guy and I are working to lose some weight this year so we've eaten a lot of chicken - soup, enchiladas, salad. We're learning fast that the portions that are posted on products are certainly not the portions we've been eating and that if we eat those portions, we can have about anything we want to eat!

 Dinner and drinks with decades-long friends who were in town. A weekend visit with my brother-in-law, niece and her husband and two-month-old son. I was so excited to meet the family's newest prince! 

This Week I’m: 

Planning: That office that I keep saying that I'm going to work on? Well, I haven't yet. It's time to get it done. 

Thinking About: I have a hair appointment Saturday and I'm thinking of switching things up - a new hair cut or a new color. We'll see how brave I am on Saturday!

Feeling: Hopeful. I haven't shared before but my dad has been diagnosed with cancer. We learned this week that there is treatment and a path forward that will likely give him years more. It's been a stressful couple of months as he waited to get to this point and it is such a relief to finally have answers. 

Looking forward to: Miss H is coming to town this weekend. 

Question of the week: How long have you known your longest friend(s)? 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Let Me Tell You What I Mean by Joan Didion

Let Me Tell You What I Mean 
 by Joan Didion
192 pages
Published January 2021 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary: 
These pieces from 1968 to 2000, never before gathered together, offer an illuminating glimpse into the mind and process of a legendary figure. They showcase Joan Didion's incisive reporting, her empathetic gaze, and her role as "an articulate witness to the most stubborn and intractable truths of our time" (The New York Times Book Review).

Here, Didion touches on topics ranging from newspapers ("the problem is not so much whether one trusts the news as to whether one finds it"), to the fantasy of San Simeon, to not getting into Stanford. In "Why I Write," Didion ponders the act of writing: "I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means." From her admiration for Hemingway's sentences to her acknowledgment that Martha Stewart's story is one "that has historically encouraged women in this country, even as it has threatened men," these essays are acutely and brilliantly observed. Each piece is classic Didion: incisive, bemused, and stunningly prescient.

My Thoughts: 
It's been a while since I've read a collection of essays and every time I do I wonder why I don't read them more often. Fortunately, there are several collections of Didion's work that I have yet to read and I happen to own some. After reading this collection, I'm reminded of how great Didion's observations and writing are and why I need to get to those other books. 

This collection includes a number of Didion's early essays, as well as some written in the late 1990's. What's most remarkable about the early essays is how well they still stand up in their observations. Didion calls out the media for its bias, those who miss the point of what makes Martha Steward truly a female icon, and false facade celebrity. The title of the collection truly is what ties this collection together - here Didion is explaining to readers exactly what she means and she never minces words.

It's surprising to me to learn, in this collection, that Didion felt like she was a "failed" intellectual given her intelligence, insightfulness, and interest in the human condition. Here she also writes about learning that she would never be a great writer of short stories when she was in college and cowed by her professor and the other students. For a woman who was so revered, it's remarkable to find her to be so humble. 

I have one quibble with one of the stories in this collection. In Gaining Serenity, Didion writes about the experience of attending a Gamblers Anonymous meeting but it's not clear why she was there. Was she there because she herself had a problem? Was she there as a support for one of the addicts? Because one thing I have learned in the past few years is that observers are not welcome at these meetings. The word "anonymous" is in the name for a reason. If you haven't been involved in some way with the addiction, you will never understand what those meetings mean to the people who attend the meetings. Do some of the addicts seem to use the meetings as a kind of confessional that allows them to go out and sin again? Maybe. Does some of the dogma seem to say that the addition is in the hands of a higher power and perhaps out of the control of the addict. Perhaps. But Didion seems to have gotten hung up on two things: that many of the people relapse and that, in the end, they seem to echo one another in what they are saying. But the thing is, these meetings, and the recovery process they advocate, work. And, in the end, of course the addicts are all seeking the same thing, serenity. Aren't we all? 

Ok, that was way more than a quibble. But it is the only complaint I have with this collection. Didion will always make you think and maybe rethink things you thought you understood. And that's always a good thing. As is this collection. 

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson

My Monticello
by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
224 pages
Published October 2021 by Henry Holt and Co. 

Publisher's Summary:
A young woman descended from Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings driven from her neighborhood by a white militia. A university professor studying racism by conducting a secret social experiment on his own son. A single mother desperate to buy her first home even as the world hurtles toward catastrophe. Each fighting to survive in America.

Tough-minded, vulnerable, and brave, Jocelyn Nicole Johnson’s precisely imagined debut explores burdened inheritances and extraordinary pursuits of belonging. Set in the near future, the eponymous novella, “My Monticello,” tells of a diverse group of Charlottesville neighbors fleeing violent white supremacists. Led by Da’Naisha, a young Black descendant of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings, they seek refuge in Jefferson’s historic plantation home in a desperate attempt to outlive the long-foretold racial and environmental unravelling within the nation.

In “Control Negro,” hailed by Roxane Gay as “one hell of story,” a university professor devotes himself to the study of racism and the development of ACMs (average American Caucasian males) by clinically observing his own son from birth in order to “painstakingly mark the route of this Black child too, one whom I could prove was so strikingly decent and true that America could not find fault in him unless we as a nation had projected it there.” Johnson’s characters all seek out home as a place and an internal state, whether in the form of a Nigerian widower who immigrates to a meager existence in the city of Alexandria, finding himself adrift; a young mixed-race woman who adopts a new tongue and name to escape the landscapes of rural Virginia and her family; or a single mother who seeks salvation through “Buying a House Ahead of the Apocalypse.”

My Thoughts: 
I don't recall where I first heard of this collection but I'm sure I was as much drawn to it by it's title as it's content. I have revered Thomas Jefferson for most of my life, even knowing that he was wrong to have been a slave owner. It's only in the past decade or so that I began to consider him and his legacy more closely. What might a descendant of Sally Hemings think about Jefferson's Monticello? I knew I wanted to read that story. 

This collection is stunning and thought provoking and so terribly sad. Sad because it makes plain how difficult life has been being black in America but even more so because it paints such a terrifyingly realistic of a future America where it is even more difficult. Each of the short stories in the collection is written in an entirely unique style and every one of them has its strengths. The first, "Control Negro," is, as Roxane Gay says, "one hell of a story." In it a professor asks the question, "Given the right conditions, could America extend her promise of Life and Liberty to me too, to someone like me?" To find out, he needs a "control Negro" and so impregnates a young woman then supports his son from a distance, making sure that he has every advantage a young white man might. It's brilliant. 

But as I read the collection, as I so often do when I read books by and about black Americans, I wondered if I'm the best person to judge such a collection. I can tell you that I'm wow'd by this collection, by Johnson's writing, and look forward to reading more by her. But does it speak to those whom she is writing about? To answer that, I turned to Gay, who has this to say about the collection: 

"It is a rare breed of writer who can tell any kind of story and do so with exquisite deftness. Jocelyn Nicole Johnson is one such writer. Her debut collection, My Monticello, is comprised of six stories of astonishing range and each one explores what it means to live in a world that is at once home and not. She dissects the unbearable burdens of such displacement. The crowning glory of this collection is the title story, a novella about a world that has fallen apart and a small band of people who take refuge in Monticello, among the old ghosts of the former plantation, how they become family, and how they try to make a stand for their lives, for the world the way it once was. This collection is absolutely unforgettable and Johnson's prose soars to remarkable heights."  - author Roxane Gay

Colin Grant, of The Guardian, has this to say: 

Throughout the novel, there are echoes of the historical resistance of African Americans outnumbered and outgunned by foes, yet fighting back. As Da’Naisha’s band of walking wounded brothers and sisters prepare for one last stand, you fear the worst. My Monticello is a bleak story but reading it elicits the same kind of sensation that comes from listening to a poignant blues song: there is pleasure in its creation without denying the pain of the subject.

If you're a fan of short stories and you're prepared to be made uncomfortable, I can't recommend this collection highly enough. 

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Life: It Goes On - January 23

Happy Sunday! Well, it's a happy Sunday unless you're a Green Bay Packers fan (which so many in my family are); then it's a blue Sunday. "Our" teams are dropping like flies now. But still we'll watch on because we love football so much. 

Even so, I've got great plans for what we'll be watching as the football season winds down. Time to get to some of the shows that everyone raves about that we've never started, to see some of the movies that have been available for months that we've yet to watch. And reading - now that I seem to have broken out of my reading slump, I'm hoping to do more reading. 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: I've been racing through The Radium Girls, listening at 150% speed. It's almost 16 hours long but should have been 12 hours at best. I need to finish it this afternoon before it expires and then I'm on to Anthony Doerr's Cloud Cuckoo Land

 We watched another episode of The Crown. Friday evening we watched The Prom, starring Meryl Streep, Nicole Kidman, and James Corden along with a lot of other well-known names, many of whom surprised with their great voices. I enjoyed it. 

Read: I finished Joan Didion's Let Me Tell You What I Mean. I'm still working on Thrity Umrigar's latest, Honor, and also started Katherine Reay's London House. I've had so many book become available from the library all at once that I'm having to really keep track of what's due when so I get things read. Good thing I broke out of that reading slump!

Made: Monday I made chicken broth and chicken noodle soup. We've been using the rest of the chicken all week - chicken salad, chicken enchiladas. This week we started using My Fitness Pal to track our food intake so I think we'll be eating a lot of chicken for the foreseeable future and my cooking is certainly going to change in the coming weeks. No yummy desserts - just sugar-free pudding for us!

Enjoyed: My brother is staying with my dad for a couple of weeks and brought my dad in for the afternoon/evening yesterday. We enjoyed having them although my dad would probably rather have watched the football game by himself!

This Week I’m:  

Planning: I'm hoping to get back to 30 Bags In 30 Days this week, even though I have done a terrible job with it and won't come near to 30 bags in the end. But it's a good incentive to push The Big Guy to go through his things. He's never opposed to getting rid of things, but just doesn't get around to it on his own. So I've been bringing things down to the family room so he can sort and watch t.v. and I can encourage him. He did hats this week and was actually surprised to realize how many he had and how few of them he actually wears.

Thinking About:
How winter might just be a frame of mind. While I'm dreaming of what I'll do outside when it's warm, my Alaskan kids are bundling up and enjoying all of the beauty and activities that Anchorage has to offer in January. They are loving it winter this year. 

Feeling: Slow. I've caught a cold How? I'm masked most of the time when I'm out of the house and I'm hardly ever out of the house!. I have dental work scheduled for tomorrow and I'm not sure how I'm going to breathe through that with my nose congested.  

Looking forward to: Hopefully going to a movie this week. I'm figuring that if we go during the week, the theater should be pretty empty and pretty safe. 

Question of the week: Have you been to the theater lately? Do you have any movies to recommend? 

Thursday, January 20, 2022

Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Notes On Grief
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
67 Pages
Published May 2021 by Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group

Publisher's Summary:  
Notes on Grief is an exquisite work of meditation, remembrance, and hope, written in the wake of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's beloved father’s death in the summer of 2020. As the COVID-19 pandemic raged around the world, and kept Adichie and her family members separated from one another, her father succumbed unexpectedly to complications of kidney failure.

Expanding on her original New Yorker piece, Adichie shares how this loss shook her to her core. She writes about being one of the millions of people grieving this year; about the familial and cultural dimensions of grief and also about the loneliness and anger that are unavoidable in it. With signature precision of language, and glittering, devastating detail on the page—and never without touches of rich, honest humor—Adichie weaves together her own experience of her father’s death with threads of his life story, from his remarkable survival during the Biafran war, through a long career as a statistics professor, into the days of the pandemic in which he’d stay connected with his children and grandchildren over video chat from the family home in Abba, Nigeria.

My Thoughts:
Since my mom died 11 months ago, I've done a lot of thinking about grief as I've done a lot of grieving. 

For these past months I've said time and again that people all grieve differently. And that's true. There is no right or wrong way to grief. The five stages of grief weren't even intended to be for those of us left grieving but instead for those facing their own imminent death. 

But when I find myself gravitating to books about grief, what I find myself looking for are the ways in which grief is universal, for the ways in which other's grief mirrors my own. 

Adichie lost her beloved father in 2020, just after the world shut down because of Covid. Like my family, hers couldn't mourn her parent in the ways that were traditional because of pandemic restrictions. But her family also wasn't able to be together to grief - Adichie was living in the U.S. , another sibling was in England - and in order to hold the traditional ceremony, they were forced to wait months before they could bury her father. Her life growing up in Africa had been much different than had mine. Her initial reaction to the news of her father's unexpected grief was to collapse in uncontrollable sobbing. Mine was to hold that in, lest it overtake me.  

But both of us suddenly found ourselves at a loss, without the person around whom the family had orbited, and unable to imagine how to go on.
""Never" has come to stay. "Never" feels so unfairly punitive. For the rest of my life, I will live with my hands outstretched for things that are no longer there." 
We will no longer hear their voice at the other end of a telephone call. We will be hit with loss in the most unexpected ways and at the most unexpected times. And the grief will go on much longer than we could have imagined. It was not the first time either of us had grieved. But it was the first time either of us had lost a parent and a parent, I've found, is another level of grief I had not experienced before. And I find myself needing to know that, even though we do all grieve differently, there are other people out there who understand the way I feel.
"I am writing about my father in the past tense, and I cannot believe I am writing about my father in the past tense." 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Lessons In Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

Lessons In Chemistry
by Bonnie Garmus
400 Pages
Published April 2022 by Doubleday Books

Publisher's Summary: 
Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s, and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans, the lonely, brilliant, Nobel Prize-nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with - of all things - her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later, Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show, Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

My Thoughts: 
It's not often I pick up a book that has a cover that looks like this one - these always scream "light and frothy" to me and I'm not really one to enjoy light and frothy in a book. Except for right now, when I'm feeling the need to read things that maybe aren't so heavy as so much as what I read which is why I picked this book for my first read of 2022. 

I was so right and also so wrong about this book. 

It was just the right book for me right now. But it wasn't altogether light or frothy. 

It's funny, very funny. There's a dog whose thoughts we can hear, a small child who is beyond precocious, and a kitchen that is transformed into a laboratory. But Garmus also touches on sexual assault, religion, marriage, education, race, greed, parenthood, misogyny, and death. That cover, though, tells you that, in the end, good will prevail. 

It seems that I'm drawn to characters that are tough for the other characters in the book to like (Olive Kitteridge, Margery Benson (Miss Benson's Beetle), Eleanor Oliphant) and Elizabeth Zott is no exception. Here is a woman who could have used her beauty but preferred to use her brain; plus, her social skills leave more than a little to be desired. Her insistence on being taken seriously because of her brain makes men uncomfortable; her looks and insistence on not settling into the usual female roles makes women distrust her. But she's had a terrible childhood, has grown up in an era where women are not valued, loses the love of her life, and finds raising a newborn overwhelming. 

Enter a cast of characters who will get her through single parenthood and finding a way to put food on the table (here by literally putting food on the table!). So many fun characters who are so much more than filler. 

Are there stereotypes? Yes. Is there a dog who knows almost 1000 words and whose thoughts we hear? Yes. Is there a four-year-old who is reading Norman Mailer? Yes. Are there an astonishing number of coincidences? Also, yes. I didn't care. I was 100 percent willing to suspend credulity and forgive stereotypes. I so wanted these characters to find happiness and for Elizabeth to be given the chance and the respect that she deserved. And while I may have mentioned that good will prevail, it doesn't necessarily mean that this book has the kind of happy ending you may be expecting. But it does have exactly the right ending. Which made for a perfect beginning of 2022 for me. 

Sunday, January 16, 2022

Life: It Goes On - January 16

Happy Sunday from sunny Omaha! It may be cold but, even with snow outside, I can pretend it's warmer. Plus, the sun is helping keep me more productive! No, that does not mean I've been working hard on that 30 Bags In 30 Days project (more like 4!) but I've been doing some deep cleaning and that always feels so good!

The Big Guy was going to the home improvement store yesterday so I asked him to pick up a new lamp shade for a lamp that has been wearing a shade that is a bit too small for years. As I was saying to him that I keep forgetting to pick a new one up every time I go to the store it occurred to me that I have hardly been in a store in almost two years. I can probably count on my fingers the number of times I've been in a store since CoVid arrived. Although it does mean that when you order a 2022 calendar, you may well have one arrive that runs from July 2021 through June 2022. Why, Target? Why? 

Last Week I: 

Listened To: Radium Girls by Kate Moore and My Monticello by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson. I had started My Monticello on Netgalley but it expired before I got finished. I'm sort of happy because I'm getting to listen to the title story and the reader is wonderful. 

Watched: Lots of football (of course!), some HGTV, some Food Network, and we finally started the latest season of The Crown

Read: Guys, I'm reading again! I finished Lessons In Chemistry and now I'm switching between Joan Didion's Let Me Tell You What I Mean, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Notes On Grief, and Thrity Umrigar's Honor

Made: Totally drawing a blank on what we ate this week, other than pork chops. BG did bring home a rotisserie chicken from Costco the other day so we've been using that for a couple of meals.  

Seriously, doesn't everything
look better with sunlight
pouring in the window?
 I haven't left the house since I came home from work early on Friday; and if I didn't have to go pick up groceries this afternoon, I wouldn't leave today. This does mean I've heard, more than once, "are you going to get dressed today?" The answer is, as it is on so many weekend days, "maybe."

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On working with BG to get some more of his clothes sorted out. The other night I brought down all of his undershirts and winnowed those down to 20. Yes, 20. More than twice that many are now in the rag bin. Did he think I might not do laundry for a couple of months or what? Next up, hats. This one could get ugly. 

Thinking About: Even as I work upstairs on the 30 Bags project, I'm planning ahead for the 40 Bags In 40 Days that starts with Lent. There's a very good chance that my entire focus of that will be on our basement, which I somehow never seem to get to every time I do 40 Bags. 

Feeling: Nervous. I have a root canal tomorrow and I hate them. But my tooth has been bothering me for almost a month so I'm eager to be done with that pain. 

Looking forward to: We're hoping to have some company next weekend, weather permitting. 

Question of the week: In Stanley Tucci's book, Taste, he said that he doesn't like California in part because of the constant sunshine; he prefers the weather in London. You all know I'm a huge fan of sunshine and warm weather. What about you? Which do you prefer? 

Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Taste: My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

Taste: My Life Through Food
by Stanley Tucci
304 Pages
Published October 2021 by Gallery Books

Publisher's Summary: 
From award-winning actor and food obsessive Stanley Tucci comes an intimate and charming memoir of life in and out of the kitchen.

Stanley Tucci grew up in an Italian American family that spent every night around the kitchen table. He shared the magic of those meals with us in The Tucci Cookbook and The Tucci Table, and now he takes us beyond the savory recipes and into the compelling stories behind them.​

Taste is a reflection on the intersection of food and life, filled with anecdotes about his growing up in Westchester, New York; preparing for and shooting the foodie films Big Night and Julie & Julia; falling in love over dinner; and teaming up with his wife to create meals for a multitude of children. Each morsel of this gastronomic journey through good times and bad, five-star meals and burned dishes, is as heartfelt and delicious as the last.

Written with Stanley’s signature wry humor, Taste is for fans of Bill Buford, Gabrielle Hamilton, and Ruth Reichl—and anyone who knows the power of a home-cooked meal.

My Thoughts:
Print = recipes 
Audio = Stanley Tucci reading the book

Stanley Tucci may have helped me break my months' long reading slump with this book and I needed it to be in print, in a book that I held in my hands as I turned the pages. Plus, the recipes - I have so many new recipes to try! But can I tell you how sad it also makes me that I didn't get to hear Tucci reading this book?  So, here's my recommendation to you - checkout the physical book AND the audiobook so you get the best of both worlds. If you don't want to do that, do yourself a favor and at least check out some form of this book - I promise you will not be disappointed. 

Yes, it's very much a book about food and the role that food has played in Tucci's life. But it's also a book about family, about growing up in the sixty years ago in suburbia, about surviving lockdowns during a pandemic, about loss and love and friendship. And it's funny. Really. Tucci is a funny, self-deprecating guy. 

My earliest recollection of Stanley Tucci is from his 1996 film Big Night, a movie he wrote and co-directed about two Italian brothers struggling to keep their restaurant afloat. It's a gem which I cannot recommend highly enough and which forever linked Tucci with food for me. It didn't surprise me in the least to find his CNN series, Stanley Tucci: Searching For Italy, a series where he is something of a foodie tourist. 

It's only fitting that Tucci should find himself on a television show about food. He grew up watching cooking shows with his mother, a woman who never cooked a bad meal, according to Tucci. He writes about family meals growing up, food on the sets of movies, restaurants he has frequented in his travels, and the meals he's prepared. Many of those meals have been enjoyed with famous friends; even as he's dropping those friends' names, Tucci is mocking himself for doing it. But hey, if you count Meryl Streep, Ryan Reynolds, Campbell Scott, Tony Shalhoub, and Colin Firth, I guess you're entitled. 

Now in his sixties, Tucci finds that food and the act of preparing it and eating it have overcome his previous passion of acting. When you get to the end of the book, you'll know why it has taken on an even greater importance for him in the past few years but I don't want to spoil that for you. Because I'm really hoping that you'll pick this one up. 

And now I need to go watch everything Stanley Tucci has ever been in because I feel like we're friends now. And, to be honest, I find him kinda sexy - I mean, he can cook, he's funny, and he dresses impeccably; what's not to love?

Sunday, January 9, 2022

Life: It Goes On - January 9

Happy Sunday! We're on the winter roller coaster right now but grateful not to have had the trouble so many of you have had. Just temps that rise and fall, mostly. Today we're in the dip - it's 10 degrees as I type. But the sun is shining and I'm really good at pretending that the sun means long as I don't step foot out the door.

If I haven't really posted a book review in over a month, am I even allowed to call myself a book blog any more? I'm going to redeem myself a bit this week with at least one review! My tooth pain has abated (although I am looking forward to my root canal in a week - how weird is that to say?!) and I'm able to focus on reading again. The house is finally fully back in order after the holidays - we used yesterday to do a lot of those little things that needed to be done yet like take the last bin of ornaments downstairs and put away the final Christmas presents (finding a home for the big electric knife sharpener The Big Guy wanted for Christmas took some doing). 

Last Week I: 

 Listened To: Well, I did it again - managed to not get an audiobook finished before my loan expired. I almost finished One Day In December but forgot to pay attention to when it was due back and was surprised to get in the car for the ride home on Wednesday and not have it to finish up. So I listened to music the rest of the week. I'm hoping The Radium Girls becomes available in the next day or so. 

Watched: Oh, you know - lots of football, lots of HGTV. Not much else. 

 I'd started reading Stanley Tucci's Taste before Christmas but only managed about 40 pages until this last week so I finished that up this week and Stanley may just have managed to break my reading slump! I've moved on to Lessons In Chemistry, which I'm enjoying a lot. 

Made: Chicken pot pie, chicken southwestern chili, and hamburger vegetable soup - can you tell I'm craving winter comfort food?

Enjoyed: An evening with friends last night - we haven't seen them in weeks and we usually see them every week so we had a lot of talking to do!

This Week I’m:  

Planning: On getting my sourdough starter back up to speed and baking some bread. 

Thinking About:
There's a group that's doing 30 Bags In 30 Days which started the first of the year. I'm behind already and I've done things out of order. I'll still try to get 30 bags out by the end of the month. For a person who gets rid of things regularly, it's astonishing how much I still have in this house and I think it's time to really make drastic changes.

Feeling: Relieved - Miss H got Covid this week (and then, of course, passed it on to her roommate). Fortunately both of them are vaccinated and but Miss H felt like she had influenza so she was pretty miserable. Fortunately, she's on the mend. 

Looking forward to: Working from home a couple of days this week. 

Question of the week: If you've had to work from home during Covid, which do you prefer - being in the office or working from home? 

Sunday, January 2, 2022

Life: It Goes On - January 2

Happy Sunday! At least I think it's Sunday. Between the three days I had off of work before Christmas, two days off last week, one day working from home, and tomorrow scheduled off, only the fact that CBS Sunday Morning was on when I got up made it certain for me what day it is. 

Did you see that I posted some mini-reviews on New Year's Eve? If I was smart, I would have written longer reviews and had a couple of weeks of reviews ready to go. But I knew I wouldn't get them done if I was looking at an hour commitment for each review. And, yes, I did just say that I've had all kinds of time off work lately, but...well, I just didn't feel like it, that's all. 

Last Week I: 

Listened To:
 Josie Silver's One Day In December which was recommended by a coworker as being just the right book for a time of year when our brains are already overwhelmed and she was right!

Watched: Football, football, and more football. And Gene Kelly movie I'd never heard of before, Les Girls. After watching it, I know why I'd never heard of it before. 

Read: You won't be surprised to hear that I didn't read much last week. This weekend I am determined to read Stanley Tucci's Taste, which I kept picking up and then putting back down. Not because it's not good. It's actually due back to the library so I'm going to make myself sit down and read today. 

Made: The Big Guy was out of town for four days and we had a lot of leftovers so, other than cooking a pizza we picked up, the oven hasn't been on at all. But I have made some paper bag snowflakes to replace Christmas decor.

Enjoyed: Yes, I missed BG while he was gone but four days of just me and the cats (BG went on a trip with Mini-him so I've been cat sitting) was just the quiet break I needed. 

This Week I’m:  

Christmas is down and now it's time to put my office back in order. It's kind of the dumping ground for gifts that get purchased, wrapping paper, and all of the stuff that needs to get stored when the Christmas stuff is up. 

Thinking About: We're waiting on some health news about my dad and that is never far from my mind. 

Feeling: I lost a filling just before Christmas but didn't have time to get it fixed then and by the time I got to the dentist this week, it had started to hurt. He gave me a temporary filling and some antibiotics but four days later, I'm still in quite a bit of pain. It's affecting my ability to get things done and I'm getting more than a little cranky about being in pain and not being productive. 

Looking forward to: One more short work week before we settle into the long months of winter. 

Question of the week: What are we going to do without Betty White in our lives???!!!

Saturday, January 1, 2022

Happy New Year!

I do believe I have, for the first time ever perhaps, managed to time my reading (maybe because I haven't really been reading) so that I can start a new book as the new year begins. Bloggers (and maybe all readers, I can't remember if I cared before I started blogging) put a lot of stock into which book we read first in a new year. It really hasn't mattered to me. It's never been an indicator of what I'll read for the year...until this year, I think. This is the year that I'm going to really try to allow myself read only the books that suit my mood. It's only fair to the books, it's only fair to me. So this year I'm starting off which something a little lighter than my usual read, Bonnie Garmus' Lessons In Chemistry. If I'd just told you that title, you might think I was reading something scientific and important. But just one look at that cover tells you the this book is something entirely different. And, honestly, I can't wait to start reading today!

Oh, and you might want to get your hands on this one sooner rather than later - Brie Larson has already optioned it and an Apple + series is in the works. How's that for a debut work?!