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Ughhhhhhhh I cannot, I just cannot, deal today.  This is going to be one of those kinds of blog posts, because I am in a rotten mood.  I have been dreading this week, because I’m swamped with work and also running around (two speaking engagements and an all-afternoon meeting) the first half of the week, so I have no idea when I am going to get everything else done.  I put in time on both Saturday and Sunday, but I’m still totally behind the curve and just burnt. out.  Plus, it was kind of a dreary weekend, but not actually raining – so the weather was both good and bad, which – pick a lane, weather!  It was supposed to rain all weekend, and I was already mad about that (because of course it’s gorgeous all week long when I’m stuck in an office) but at the same time, I figured the blah weather was going to be good for work, at least.  Well – the rain forecast didn’t materialize, which meant I got less work done (and I was crankier when I was working) but at least we were able to squeeze in a hike on Saturday morning – staying on track in the 52 Hike Challenge, if not chipping away at the backlog.  We hiked Potomac Overlook Regional Park – a new-to-us trail that was a lot tougher than advertised.  There were something like ten slippery stream crossings, logs to climb over and limbs to duck under, lots of elevation change, and we were both schlepping about 40 pounds of child carriers.  Definitely not the “easy to moderate” trail that our local hiking guide promised, but at least it was good preparation for hiking in the Adirondacks this summer.  On Sunday we just wandered around the neighborhood, which was nice – and then it was back to the computer for me.  Wish me luck this week, friends.  I have fun plans for next weekend (weather permitting) but I have to get through the week first.

  

Reading.  This week has felt like a bit of a rut.  I finished Northanger Abbey on Monday, which is one of my favorite books – so that part was good.  But pressing library deadlines pushed me into the “reading feels like work” territory and as a result, I didn’t have much fun with the rest of the week.  The Untelling was beautifully written but I just couldn’t feel much sympathy for the main character, who made terrible choice after terrible choice.  Second Class Citizen, similarly, is beautifully written – I can tell why it’s a classic – but it’s suffering from not being exactly what I want to read in this moment.  I’m just in a funk, y’all.  I’ll be out of it by next weekend, I’m sure.

Watching.  I don’t think I’ve watched anything this week.  Certainly nothing is sticking in my memory.  Steve has been turning on the TV only for video games, and the kids are on an iPad diet so I’m not even watching Miles From Tomorrowland over their shoulders.  It’s sort of refreshing.

Listening.  All over the place, again.  Some music (Offa Rex, mostly, this week) and some podcasts.  I’m catching up on back episodes of parenting and lifestyle podcasts, mainly because I feel like I should.  I’m usually up-to-date on book podcasts – although I am saving season 2 of Annotated for a rainy day – but I often leave podcasts on other topics languishing.  The highlight of the week was a back episode of Sorta Awesome on celebrating the everyday.  I’ve listened to several people’s fair shares of Sorta Awesome at this point, and I think I can safely say that the episodes in which Kelly Gordon co-hosts are my favorites.

Planning.  I am so overwhelmed with work and life stuff right now that it feels like the only way to escape it is by diving headfirst into summer vacation planning, so that’s what I’m doing.  Lodging is booked, and now it’s time to do my favorite part – plot our activities.  I’m a list-making, canoe-rental-finding, hike-scheming machine.

Blogging.  This should be a fun week.  On Wednesday, I will get controversial with some opinions about things like pie, sidewalks, and vegetables – this is hard-hitting stuff, folks.  (Not really.  Unless you think Christmas is better than the Fourth of July, in which case you are wrong.)  And on Friday I have a fun pre-Mother’s Day post about motherhood in Austen novels, so check in with me then.

Pinning.  Big news!  I’m back on Pinterest after an eleven-month hiatus.  I had to create a new account because Pinterest put my old account in “safe mode” and I couldn’t reset it, since it was associated with an email address I no longer have.  But I’ve moved most of my pins over to my new account, and created a bunch more boards just for fun.  I’ve been having the best time going pin-crazy, so if you’re a pinner, come find me!

Loving.  I am so excited that The Yellow Note recently featured my hometown!  I’m a huge fan of Briana’s photography on Instagram – her feed is such a breath of fresh air.  It was super fun to see my favorite stomping grounds come to life through her gorgeous photos on the blog, and to hear about the delicious food and fun sightseeing she enjoyed during her short stay in town – which included stops at some of my favorite haunts.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

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One of my New Year’s Resolutions was to complete the 52 Hike Challenge – a year-long project (well, less if you’re a power hiker) that challenges you to hit the trails at a pace of one hike per week.  It struck me as a challenging but doable project for 2018 – we hike a lot, but once a week might be pushing it; like most families with young children we rack up hikes when the weather is nice but are a bit skittish about getting out in the cold or the muck.  But we’re planning to do a fair amount of hiking on vacation this year, and I figured with a little commitment, and the willingness to sneak out myself during naptimes if necessary, 52 hikes in 2018 is an achievable goal that’s still tough enough to be worth the effort.  Anyway, ten hikes in – as expected, I’m behind on pace but not too worried about it (yet) since there’s plenty of time to make up the deficit and the weather’s just starting to get nice.  For now, a recap of the first bunch from winter and early spring:

Hike 1: Theodore Roosevelt Island (McLean, VA), January 21, 2018.  Thought it fitting to begin with an homage to Teddy.

Hike 2: Scott’s Run Nature Preserve (McLean, VA), January 21, 2018.  It was the first weekend that it wasn’t freeze-your-face-off cold, so we took advantage of the (slight) thaw by knocking off two hikes in one day.

Hike 3: Huntley Meadows Park (Alexandria, VA), February 17, 2018.  Almost a month off between hikes – ouch; not a great start to this challenge.  Felt good to get back on the trail, even if the boardwalk was lousy with goose droppings.

Hike 4: George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Alexandria, VA), March 4, 2018.  There’s a nature trail through the woods on the estate, so we count it as a hike if we include that segment.

Hike 5: Piscataway Park (Accokeek, MD), March 10, 2018.  My sweet outdoor buddy chose hiking as one of his birthday weekend activities, and we found perfect spiral shells on the bank of the Potomac.

Hike 6: Burke Lake Park (Burke, VA), March 24, 2018.  Peanut brought a hand-drawn map so we wouldn’t get lost.

Hike 7: Mason Neck State Park (Lorton, VA), April 8, 2018.  Aunt Rebecca and Brandy the dog joined us for this one.  Much running and barking ensued.  Yes, Nugget is wearing pajamas, no shame.

Hike 8: Bluebell Loop Trail, Bull Run-Occoquan Regional Park (Clifton, VA), April 13, 2018.  Nothing unlucky about our Friday the 13th this time.  A gorgeous day and a favorite spring tradition (and a morning off work!).

Hike 9: George Washington’s Mount Vernon (Alexandria, VA), April 15, 2018.  Expect to see this one repeated a lot.  It’s a go-to and a family favorite, especially as the weather warms up and the animals start venturing outside.

Hike 10: Great Falls Park (Great Falls, VA), April 28, 2018.  Poor planning on my part, because we did this hike while constantly jumping out of the path of ultramarathoners running the trails for the North Face Challenge.  But it was a beautiful day.

I started slow with this challenge, thanks to the weirdly long winter and some frigid weather in January, but am picking up steam now.  The Bluebell Loop Trail was, of course, the highlight of spring hiking, and I also love every moment spent at Mason Neck.  Here’s to many more hiking weekends as the weather continues to warm up!

Reading Round-Up Header

Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby.  I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book.  Here are my reads for April, 2018

Behind the Lines, by A. A. Milne – I have only ever read Milne’s children’s work – Winnie-the-Pooh and progeny – but have been wanting to read some of his writing for adults for a very long time.  When I saw (on a book blog, and I can never remember which) this book of poems about Milne’s experience on the home front during the first nine months of World War II, I snapped it up.  All the quintessential Milne whimsy is present, but the themes are all grown up.  (For a sample, look no further than one of my poetry Friday posts – here.)

Consider the Years, by Virginia Graham – Looks like I started April on a WWII poetry kick.  Consider the Years arrived, wrapped in brown paper, straight from Persephone Books in London and just in time for National Poetry Month.  I loved Graham’s lyrical writing and evocative choice of subjects – so much that I chose one of the poems in the collection, Evening, to feature as part of my tribute to National Poetry Month (read it here).  Graham herself was a fascinating woman, as described in the introduction, and her poetry was a delight; I ripped through the collection whilst berating myself to slow down and savor.

84, Charing Cross Road, by Helene Hanff – People have been telling me to read this book for literally years, and I am so very glad that I finally picked it up.  I had a pretty red edition from Slightly Foxed, which enhanced the reading experience – but really, no enhancement is needed, because the book is enchanting.  Hanff’s decades-long correspondence with all the staff of a London used bookshop is just a delight to read (and inspired me to get out my pen and writing paper – Katie, a letter is coming your way).

The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street, by Helene Hanff – 84, Charing Cross Road is a touch bittersweet, because a recurring theme is Hanff’s desire to travel to London (she lives in New York) to meet her friends, but her continuing financial straits make her unable to do so before Frank, her primary correspondent, passes away.  The Duchess of Bloomsbury Street is Hanff’s journal from her decades-in-the-making trip to London (for the launch of 84) and it’s delightful, naturally, but with an undercurrent of sadness as she never was able to meet Frank in person.

It’s Hard to be Hip Over Thirty, and Other Tragedies of Married Life, by Judith Viorst – Another Persephone poetry pick for April!  I liked this, although not as much as Consider the Years.  Viorst is funny, punchy, and a bit sour – and while many of her poems about marriage are a bit rooted in the 1950s and ’60s, they’re still plenty of fun.  There’s an element of discontent that runs though the collection, though, and at the end I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it.  Still enjoyed the reading experience, and I’m sure I’ll come back to it – but yes, a bit sour from time to time.

Space Opera, by Catherynne M. Valente – I’d been looking forward to this one for months; pre-ordered it and was delighted to find it on my doorstep on release day.  “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy meets Eurovision” was the tagline and – do you really need to know any more than that?  If so, know this – it was glam, glittery, weird, hilarious, kooky, heartfelt, sad, sweet, absurd, and there is lipstick and a dirt bar and a “sexy C-3PO costume,” so you’ll probably just want to go read this one.  Also, if you do, let me know, because WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT CHAPTER 29.

My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues, by Pamela Paul – First off, if you’re less astute than I am and you’re wondering who Bob is, Bob is literally the author’s “Book of Books.”  Get it?  So, I heard about this on the Tea Reads podcast episode about bibliomemoirs and the title alone was enough for me to reserve a copy at the library.  The title is, however, just the beginning of the charm.  Paul is a delightful and funny “flawed heroine” and while our reading tastes do occasionally diverge, she’s a charming writer who has had several people’s share of adventure – always with a book in her bag.

Slightly Foxed No. 57: A Crowning Achievement, ed. Gail Pirkis – It’s always a cause for great glee and rejoicing when the current issue of Slightly Foxed arrives in my mailbox.  I’m also slowly reading my way through the back issues, but this was the spring 2018 issue and it was a good ‘un.  Highlights were Laura Freeman on A. A. Milne’s memoir It’s Too Late Now (which sounds both charming and heartbreaking) and Roger Hudson on the letters of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (sadly out of print, but I’m hunting for a reasonably priced secondhand copy – so far, no joy).  No matter what, a new Slightly Foxed is always a treat.

Life in the Garden, by Penelope Lively – I have Slightly Foxed to thank for this one, too – I’d seen the book pop up here and there on Instagram but thought it looked like a novelty book and didn’t give it much attention until the Foxes profiled it alongside A Late Beginner (which I own and for which Lively contributed the introduction).  That was enough to induce me to research and I discovered that it was a literary and historical exploration of gardens in culture, with the author’s memories of the gardens she has known woven in.  Sold.  Plus – just look how gorgeous.  Clearly, I needed this on my shelf, and it was a lovely and ruminative spring read.

Northanger Abbey, by Jane Austen – I read this for my book club; it was my choice and I’m a little nervous about how it will be received (but I’ll find out when we meet tonight).  But for me at least, Northanger Abbey will always be a favorite – I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve read it; it’s my second most-beloved of Austen’s novels (nothing can touch Pride and Prejudice, but Catherine Morland and Henry Tilney hold a cherished place in my heart).  I love the story of Catherine’s overactive imagination and her fighting off frenemies and toxic males to find real sympathy in the Tilney siblings.

Clearly, my goal to read fewer books continues to go just swimmingly – ha.  It’s fine, though.  I’m delighted with everything I read this month – there was poetry, there was an issue of Slightly Foxed, there was gardening and classic lit and electric guitars in space.  I can’t really see that anything is missing, can you?  I have some fun spring reads planned for May, so check back in with me.

Hello, friends, it’s that time again.  To get the preliminaries over with – I am so not ready for Monday.  Am I ever?  We had a nice weekend; we spent much of it outdoors, which always makes for a winner.  On Saturday, we drove out to Great Falls for a hike – not realizing that it was the day of the North Face Challenge and the park was swarming with runners.  I never mind seeing other faces on the trail, though, and we had fun encouraging the runners and shouting things like “Great job!” and “Looking strong!” as they sloshed through the mud puddles.  After Saturday naps, we headed out again – first for an indie bookstore crawl to celebrate #IndependentBookstoreDay.  We are lucky enough to live within a short walk from a used bookstore and a children’s bookstore, and we visited both.  Steve and I left the used bookstore with purchases (Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot for him and The Ghost Stories of Edith Wharton for her) and the kids added to the stack at the children’s bookstore.  We finished the day with pizzas at our favorite local wood-fired pizza joint – perfect.  On Sunday we did more hiking, this time in the neighborhood – at Jones Point Park.  (Two days, two smaller NPS sites – look at us go.)  The downsides to the weekend, lest you think it was flawless, were: tantrums by both kids (when does that stop?) and lots of squabbling and fisticuffs (the kids again), and a vicious pollen attack that had me sneezing and rubbing my eyes all of Sunday.

 

Reading.  I was a bit slower at reading this week than usual – I’m not sure why.  It wasn’t because the books weren’t good – as you can see, they were.  I finished Life in the Garden midweek and then turned my attention to Northanger Abbey, which was my first book club (!!!!!) book.  It was my choice, and I have read it more times than I can count – I just hope the other girls liked it.  When we had our kickoff meeting last month, we talked about what books we most enjoy and I was the only classic lit fan in the group, so I am a little bit nervous about this choice.  (We all agreed that we’re looking forward to reading outside our comfort zones, and Northanger was greeted with general enthusiasm, so here’s hoping.)  Our next meeting is Wednesday, so I’ll find out then if my pick was a success or if they’re kicking me out of the group.

Watching.  Literally the only thing I have watched all week was this Offa Rex video – over and over (and over!) again.  It is so gorgeous, I can’t stop.

Listening.  All over the place.  Some Decemberists, some Offa Rex, some show tunes, some podcasts (The Mom Hour and Tea or Books?, specifically).

Moving.  I broke 15,000 steps on my Fitbit this weekend – between hiking at Great Falls in the morning and walking all over the neighborhood in the afternoon on Saturday – and earned the “Urban boot badge,” whatever that is.  Where my weekend warriors at?

Blogging.  On Wednesday, I’ll have my April booklist for you – lots of reading from my own shelf this month.  And a healthy portion of poetry!  And on Friday, just for fun, one picture from each of the first ten hikes I’ve notched toward the #52HikeChallenge2018.

Loving.  I have gotten into the habit of lighting a candle each evening when I sit down with my book – just one candle.  (Because most of my candles are scented and I don’t need a bunch of different aromas competing with one another when I am trying to concentrate on reading.)  It started as a way to try to make a dent in my candle stash (I’m on a mission to use up as many things as I can before we eventually move out of this house) but it’s turned into a delight that I look forward to all day long.  It’s such a cozy habit and I love that warm flickering light next to me as I turn pages and muse over characters.

Asking.  What are you reading this week?

A bit of a departure from the past few weeks, but music is poetry too, and I can’t stop watching this video so I thought it would be a good way to wrap up National Poetry Month.  Just try watching it only once and without crying – especially the last verse: “I rest in the hope that one bright day / sunshine will burst to these prisons of clay / and old Gabriel’s trumpet and the voice of the Lord / will wake up the dead in the old churchyard.”  Go on, I dare you.

December in April

No, this post isn’t about the weather (even if it has been unseasonably cold lately).  On Saturday, I had a long-cherished dream come true for me, and I want to tell you all about it.  This is a completely rambling and self-indulgent post, so buckle up.

I saw The Decemberists!  I have been listening, dancing, and living to the beat of Colin Meloy, Jenny Conlee, Nate Query, Chris Funk and John Moen for [lucky] thirteen years now – they’re my favorite band (or at least my favorite currently-active band, since my beloved R.E.M. betrayed me by breaking up before I got to see them play live) but I never thought I’d actually get to see them in person.  Until January, when I realized that they’d be making a stop at the Anthem in D.C. on their Your Girl / Your Ghost tour.  Tickets for the VIP fan experience went on sale two days later and I was READY.

The VIP experience was incredible and worth every penny of the more expensive ticket price.  It started at 4:00 p.m. with sound check, then the band played two songs for the fans and answered a bunch of questions (no one asked them what their favorite books were, which was disappointing, but one person asked what musical they would like to put on – since their songs are very melodramatic and theatrical – and they answered Jesus Christ Superstar).

There were only a handful of people with VIP tickets, so it was a really fun and intimate way to engage with the band.  I was there on my own – Steve was waiting for the babysitter, and was joining me for the concert later, and I was sad he missed it, because he would have loved it.

I was basically weeping with the joy of being less than ten feet from Colin Meloy.  You guys.  I WAS LESS THAN TEN FEET FROM COLIN MELOY.

They played The Crane Wife, Part 3, which is one of my favorite songs – and an old one, from their 2006 album.  I started listening to The Decemberists in 2005, so The Crane Wife was the first album of theirs that I bought on release day, and I fell hard and fast for it.  Hearing The Crane Wife, Part 3 played live LESS THAN TEN FEET FROM MY EARS (we do need to keep focusing on that part) was a thrill I never expected to experience.

After the “VIP fan experience” was over, we were ushered out of the venue and back into the rather disorienting sunlight, and told that we’d be getting a fifteen minute head start on the rest of the crowd if we came back to the VIP door before showtime.  Since the floor was flat and our tickets were for general admission, this was a very big deal to 5’0″ me.  My miniature self was not going to see anything unless I was right at Colin’s feet.  So I made it my mission to be one of the first people into the venue.  I spent a few minutes poking around Politics & Prose, then grabbed a sandwich, called Steve and got in line by the VIP door.  Steve arrived around 6:00 to join me in line, and we were about the fourteenth and fifteenth people into the venue.  I made a break for the stage and secured a spot along the front railing.  Mission accomplished.

Before long, the general admission doors opened and the folks poured in.  It’s funny, because whenever I make the mistake of mentioning my love for The Decemberists to my friends and family, I’m invariably met with blank stares, and sometimes a “Who?!”  But clearly, there are other Decemberists fans in D.C.  I was with my people.

Two things: (1) the Anthem is a super cool new performance venue!  We loved it and will definitely be back – not in a month for Fleet Foxes, as cool as that would be, but we will be back; and (2) you know you’re at a Decemberists concert when a not-insubstantial percentage of the crowd whips their books out while waiting for the opening band and between acts.  I saw a lot of mystery novels – unsurprising, given the band’s fondness for singing about murder and espionage – including a British edition of Dorothy L. Sayers in the row behind me; its owner and I engaged in an animated conversation about the importance of having one’s books match on the shelf.  And then it was time to put the books away, because–

Colin!  Jenny!  Nate!  My face made lots of excited noises.

You guys. It was. The show. Of a lifetime. They played all but one of the songs off their new album, I’ll Be Your Girl – which delighted me, because I have been listening to it pretty much nonstop since it dropped, and I really love it. (It doesn’t top 2011’s The King is Dead, for me, but nothing could. It’s close, though.) But they mixed in a ton of old stuff, too – Rox in the Box from The King is Dead; The Shankill Butchers, O Valencia! and Yankee Bayonet from The Crane Wife, and more. (Colin introduced Yankee Bayonet by asking the crowd “Who wants to hear a ghost story?” and then – not getting the wild cheers he was clearly expecting – “That was kind of a tepid response. What if it’s a Civil War ghost story?”) And there was a spirited rendition of The Bagman’s Gambit, which was a huge hit with the crowd because, dude, D.C. – the lines “on the steps of the Capitol” and “I was working for the government” and “in a bathroom stall off the National Mall” got the biggest cheers.  (Colin even stopped singing to reflect: “You guys really like bathroom stalls.  I don’t even know if there are bathroom stalls off the National Mall.  Are there?  Or did the Republicans take them away?”)

The band’s audience interaction was really on point.  After the final chord of Cutting Stone died away, Colin mused, “The last song was about a cutting stone but this next one is about cutting… people.”  Sensing mayhem of the Shankill Butchers variety, the crowd roared.  “I thought you’d like that,” Colin deadpanned back.  Later on, he announced that we were going to have “a little State of the Union” before launching into Everything is Awful, which he turned into a call-and-response concluding with “A heterosexual white male telling you that things are awful!” – to which the crowd sang back “la da da da da, la da da da AWFUL!”

They also had the whole venue singing along to Sons and Daughters, another old favorite; “it’s really better as a singalong with as many people as possible; let’s sing so loud they hear us on Capitol Hill,” Colin urged, and then seven thousand people sang in one voice, “hear all the bombs, they fade away,” and I don’t think I was the only one who was moved to tears.

I’m going on and on and on – and on – here, but this concert was a dream come true for me.  Or not even a dream come true, because even in my wildest concertgoing dreams, I don’t have a spot right by the stage.  And the best part was – the band gained another fan on Saturday.  Steve was vaguely aware of their existence, mainly from listening when I occasionally turn them on in the car.  (They’re my go-to music for all occasions, but I generally only inflict my own taste on Steve when I think I can definitely get away with it, i.e., when I’m on the way to the hospital to have a baby.)  But he was cramming for the show, listening to their newest album and really liking it, for the month leading up to the concert – and when we left the venue, his grin was almost as big as mine.  (He did say it was the chillest concert he’d ever been to, which I chose to take as a compliment.)  I’m telling you, guys.  There’s something about this band, when they can create a brand-new fan with a full night of sea shanties, Civil War ballads, and working in vocab like liminalaugurtrystpurloined and dirigible – all words they sang on Saturday.

It also didn’t hurt that they performed Ben Franklin’s Song, lyrics by Lin-Manuel Miranda, and sent to Meloy by Miranda after Ben was cut from Hamilton.  Lin wrote the words, Colin and the folks wrote the music.  Because, according to Colin, “Lin-Manuel Miranda gets whatever he wants,” and “he apparently wanted Ben Franklin’s Song to be Decemberist-y.”  Steve is a huge #Hamilfan, and this gave The Decemberists instant cred.  And they’ve been featured on our favorite show, Parks and Recreation, which sealed the deal.  Well – actually, I think their new song, Severed, was what really sealed the deal for Steve.  But I don’t care what it was – my husband now loves my favorite band.  That’s good enough for me.

I told you this was going to be self-indulgent.  But I can’t stop myself waxing rhapsodic about this band.  They have been the soundtrack to my life for thirteen years.  I’ve spent a lot of time belting out their songs in the car, dancing to them on the rare occasions I’m home alone, and hearing Colin Meloy’s voice in my head at every epic moment in my adult life.  (Except for law school graduation, which was narrated by The Shins.  But that’s a story for another day.)

So I’ll leave this long, rambling love letter to The Decemberists as they left us, with The Mariner’s Revenge Song, the finale from Saturday night (and I suspect the finale of every concert, because what a way to go out, right?).  I highly recommend watching this whole video.  But if you only have a few minutes to spare, fast-forward to about minute 6.  Right before the “screaming like you’re being swallowed by a whale” begins.

What’s your favorite band?  How much do we love The Decemberists?

Alright, alright, it’s Monday, so fine.  I guess we will do this.  Even though all I really want to do is rewind the clock and go back to Saturday night, which I spent dancing and singing along with my husband in the front row at a Decemberists concert.  And feeling like the luckiest girl alive, even after a rough, rough Saturday full of Peanut tantrums and legal research.  It was all worth it to see my favorite band strumming away at songs I’ve loved since 2005.  And to share it with Steve, who normally doesn’t agree with my taste in music, but who is a newly-minted Decemberists fan after a fabulous night.  I’ll tell you all about it on Wednesday, though, because I just had to relive the whole thing in an epic long blog post (almost as long as one of the Decemberists’ twelve-minute mini rock opera extravaganzas).  Sunday was a fun day, too.  For one thing, I wore my concert t-shirt from the night before.  For another, it was a gorgeous day and we spent the morning at Mount Vernon with my parents and our dear family friends.  Of course there was a steady soundtrack of Decemberists tunes playing in my head all day – but that’s not actually that different from every day.

  

Reading.  I’m having just the loveliest, most serene reading streak.  Earlier in the week, I blazed through My Life with Bob: Flawed Heroine Keeps Book of Books, Plot Ensues.  I love a good bibliomemoir, and this one was really enjoyable.  Then I picked up another library book, which I was really excited about reading, but put it down after one chapter because it was riddled with expletives and I just wasn’t in the mood.  I turned to Life in the Garden, Penelope Lively’s garden-memoir-slash-history-slash-literary-exploration and am loving it.  (Plus, look at that cover.)  Along with it, I’m almost done with the current Slightly Foxed and have been inspired to pick up Swann’s Way based on one of the articles.  It probably won’t happen anytime soon, but the idea is percolating.

Watching.  Had a fun discovery this week, thanks to a Facebook video share in the Drunk Janeites group I frequent – Cunk on Britain.  For the uninitiated, there are just a few episodes available on this side of the Pond (via YouTube, so free!) but it’s a mockumentary-style progression through the history of the British Isles, starring the hilarious Diane Morgan as historian Philomena Cunk, whose take on history is brilliant and side-splitting.  (A sample: “Henry of Eight was best known for his chronic wife addiction.  He had six wives, all called Catherine.  He was a Catherine-oholic, or Catholic for short.  After he killed all six Catherines, he got bored of killing wives and he had to come up with a new way to get rid of them, so he invented divorce.  The Pope didn’t like that, so Henry divorced him and invented a new religion, which is easier to do than Popes like to pretend.”)  You get the drift.  And she delivers her lines completely deadpan, in the brogue-iest of Yorkshire brogues.  It’s madcap and wonderful.  Go watch it!  Cunk on Britain.

Listening.  Some podcasts, probably, but more to the point, I am listening to The Decemberists.  All the time.  Sometimes (like on Saturday night) I am listening to them LIVE IN CONCERT!  Other times, I am listening on my earbuds, and other times I am just listening to the soundtrack in my head, which is mostly selections from The King is Dead.  I will tell you all about the concert (literally, I am going to tell you all about it) on Wednesday, so get ready.

Moving.  Well, there was a lot of dancing on Saturday.  And a lot of walking on Sunday.  I’m a weekend warrior at the moment, and not even a very enthusiastic warrior.  But if Peanut keeps having tantrums like she did all day (ALL DAY) Saturday, I’ll probably resume my running habit just to get away from the house.

Blogging.  Going to be a fun week.  Gigantic recap of Saturday’s concert coming to you on Wednesday, and on Friday I’ll have one more poem to close out National Poetry Month.  No teasers for you this week, because I haven’t chosen a poem yet.  I was planning to end with Tennyson, but his poems are loooooooong, man.  So we’ll see.

Loving.  I will be a broken record for awhile, but this week I am especially loving The Decemberists, after that incredible concert.  I could barely sleep on Saturday night for being so happy, and on Sunday I promptly downloaded the few items I had on CD only or didn’t have at all, so I could keep binging on their special brand of literary reference-peppered indie folk rock baroque pop.  Man, I just love them so much.

Asking.  How totally right am I that The Decemberists are the best band currently playing?