It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? (September 13, 2021)

Mornin’ all. How were your weekends? This was supposed to be the first busy weekend of the fall – but that will come next weekend, as it turns out. Nugget’s first soccer practice and game were scheduled for Friday and Saturday respectively but… womp, womp… he failed his health screening, thanks to his proximity to his sister and her gross cold and ear infection. He was patient zero and gave her the bugs originally, so I guess fair’s fair – but he was understandably bummed. We were a bit frustrated at the restrictiveness and rigidity of the soccer league when it came to the health screening – safety first, we totally get that, but between Peanut and Nugget they had four negative COVID tests this week, and both were cleared to attend school by the pediatrician, but Nugget was still scratched by the league safety committee. To be honest, it seemed a bit hard knocks that what the pediatrician considered healthy enough to attend school somehow wasn’t healthy enough to play soccer outside – but them’s the breaks. He’ll play next weekend, and I am hoping that other families are as conscientious and honest as we were, because the list of symptoms that the soccer league considers disqualifying (including being in contact with someone with a headache – thank goodness I don’t work in law firms anymore) is so extensive that I’m legit concerned that the league is either going to have (1) a bunch of teams that have to forfeit games due to having NO players; or (2) lots of lying parents. But the league made a decision and we respected it.

Anyway, you’d think no soccer practice and no game would have freed up oodles of time, but we still did a bit of running around. On Friday, my team at work had a virtual murder mystery to start the weekend; we all dialed into zoom, several people had drinks (not me – Whole30, round floppity jillion) and we solved a murder, #nobigdeal. I’m pleased to report that my team WON and I WAS CAPTAIN. You guys can start calling me Young Miss Marple. So – after I singlehandedly caught a killer (okay that’s not what happened) we quickly fed the kiddos and rushed off to their school for the first PTO event of the year – an outdoor screening of The Incredibles 2. It was a blast, although I stood in line for more than half an hour to get the kiddos popcorn. We set up camp chairs, chatted with neighbors and friends, and made it half an hour into the film before everyone got cold and we packed it in for the night. That was the big event of the weekend, as it turned out – other than a hike on Saturday (Nugget got to use his new kidizoom camera) and swim lessons on Sunday, it was a quiet couple of days. I read a lot, did some work on Sunday afternoon, took a long ramble around the neighborhood – the usual good stuff. And now it’s off on another week.

Reading. Hello! I’m sure you must be wondering, so just to be clear: yes, I did other things this week – my job, for one, and putting dinners on the table, and taking the kiddos to activities, and making coffee, and walking. It just happens that I also have my reading mojo back, yippee, and that these are all pretty short books. So – to sum up quickly: I finished The Hour of Land on Tuesday, and it was wonderful to the last. For something completely different, I turned to the summer issue of Slightly Foxed (trying to knock it out before the fall issue arrived, which it did a few days later). That’s always a quick read, and then I moved on to another quick read – Maggie Smith’s slim volume of new poems, Goldenrod. Enjoyed, then snatched a September title off my stack of Girls Gone By paperbacks – Crooked Sixpence, which was good fun. By this point I was on a vintage book roll, so I finally turned to a World War II home front memoir I’ve been saving – Spam Tomorrow, by Verily Anderson. It was absolutely wonderful and will definitely be a contender for my top-ten list at the end of the year. Finally! Finished Sunday off by starting a re-read of Period Piece, which I read a few years ago and loved. It’s been a good reading week indeed.

Watching. Well – not much as you can see; I’ve been reading of an evening and not wandering down to the TV room at all. I did join Steve and the kiddos for “family TV time” and “family movie night” as I always do; Peanut has been choosing lately and we all watched “Home” (a Netflix original about a little alien who learns big life lessons, starring Rihanna, J.Lo and Steve Martin, because why not) and “Leap” (another Netflix cartoon I didn’t like as much). I’ve also been catching up on Miranda Mills’ YouTube channel while washing dishes of an evening; it’s made me actually look forward to loading the dishwasher, so basically it’s a miracle show.

Listening. The usual suspects – podcasts, namely The Mom Hour (loved the episode on breakfasts) and Tea or Books? – always winners both.

Making. Lots of food prep this week! I’m a week into a Whole30 – needed a nutritional reset after a summer of moving a lot but not paying much attention to eating – and that always entails lots of chopping, sauteeing, roasting, braising – basically, my entire kitchen toolbox comes out to play and I’m not even mad about it. The highlight was a chicken and kale stew that I made earlier in the week and finished off on Friday.

Moving. It was a busy week at work and movement fell a bit by the wayside. I still got in my 10,000 steps a day – I’m on a streak since early June and not letting up now. The highlight, though, was sneaking off for a pre-work paddle on the Potomac with my friend Dorothy. I’ve known Dorothy for years through my college alumni club – we both served on the Board of Directors for a few years, and were co-Vice Presidents for Programming, and we’ve kept in touch over Facebook but it’d been ages since we got together in person. Dorothy texted me in August to ask if I would teach her to kayak – obviously, I immediately said (there’s not much to teach but) of course I would. It’s all part of my plan to snag myself another paddling buddy. (Clearly I love paddling with Steve, but sometimes you just want to hit the river with a girlfriend, know what I mean? And yes – that is Steve’s life jacket and paddle; I loaned them to Dorothy, wasn’t that generous of me?) It wasn’t much of a workout, but we had a fabulous time chatting all the way to Chain Bridge and back, and at the end we agreed to make this a standing date until the boathouses close and then switch to hiking. Three cheers for active outdoorsy girlfriends!

Blogging. Continuing with summer catch-up all week! On Wednesday I’m showing off my shiny, newly-finished One Second Everyday video full of summer fun, and on Friday, it’s back to the Adirondacks for some peak-bagging. Check in with me then!

Loving. When we were shopping around for a new hometown in the spring of 2020, I read an article about the exurb hamlet where we ended up. The article painted an idyllic portrait of big yards (and often unreasonably big houses to go along with them, but let’s focus on the yards); neighbors gathering at the local coffee shop for Saturday morning vintage car shows; Fourth of July parades; and outdoor movies on the village green all summer long. After four years of city living (and before that, three years of cold loneliness in western New York) that warmth was just what I wanted. We had to wait for it – for obvious reasons, most of the local town activities were cancelled during our first summer here (and our second, too). But this weekend I finally got a taste of what I moved for (along with outdoor space, cheaper rent and better schools, of course). The PTO at the kiddos’ elementary school hosted its first event of the year – a movie night, discussed above. I thought it was a virtual event and that we’d all watch The Incredibles 2 at home on Disney+… so you can imagine my surprise when Steve told me no, it’s a real event, with tickets and popcorn and everything. We rolled up to the school as the sun was setting and the PTO volunteers were inflating the big outdoor movie screen. We staked out a spot, set up our camp chairs, and not seconds later were attacked with hugs by the mother of one of Nugget’s tee-ball teammates (and kindergarten classmates). (“I’m a touchy person,” she said, rubbing my arm, “I hope you don’t mind!”) She introduced us to her in-laws, nieces and nephews before the whole bunch of them wandered off to find some ground that wasn’t already taken. And I turned around to see two neighbors – and new bus stop friends – waving. Steve and I wandered to their blanket (the kids had long since decamped for the playground and basketball court with a clump of friends) and we chatted about the block party they’re planning – the last one was a dud, apparently, and they have their minds set on redemption. And then it got dark, and we snuggled in to watch the movie under my favorite orange shawl, and I oozed with gratitude for this little town and these warm people, and finally getting to experience the charm that we moved here for.

Asking. What are you reading this week?

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