Category Archives: on reading

An Alternate Reality

alice-munro

The other day I wrote a post confessing that I’m an “escapist” and have turned to my books to get away from this awful election season. This morning I read a different view of that kind of “escape” from the brilliant writer, Alice Munro.

“She read modern fiction too. Always fiction. She hated to hear the word ‘escape’ used about fiction. She might have argued, not just playfully, that it was real life that was the escape. But this was too important to argue about.”

~ from Too Much Happiness, by Alice Munro
(I found this quote and a brief description of this new book on the Vintage Books & Anchor Books Facebook page.)

A slightly different view of the idea of “escape,” but I won’t argue with it and very much like the idea that my reading is my reality and that real life is the alternate reality!

Note to self: I must read more and more Alice Munro!

Currently Reading and Listening

reading

October just flew by this year and here it is November already. As the days grow shorter and darker, I spend more time reading and listening to audiobooks while doing winter knitting projects. Right now I am reading a number of different things. My current library book is Wild Seed, by Octavia Butler. This is my first time reading her work and I’ve found that I really like her writing. My current Audible listen is J.K. Rowling’s The Silkworm. My current Kindle book is Rules For a Successful Book Club (The Book Lovers, #2), by Victoria Connelly. And a friend loaned me another Kindle book to add to my annual holiday reading project. It’s called A Cornish Christmas, by Lily Graham. There’s no shortage of books to light up these shorter darkening days!

 

Reading Escapes

I must admit that I am an escapist. The national election scene in September and October has been an awful place to hang out. Yes, I watched all three presidential debates. Yes, I did my homework on local issues and candidates. And yes, I have voted. But it all left me feeling breathless, cold and shaken as if the Dementors have been hovering nearby!

So my reading list for September and October reflects my need to close out that crazy ugly world of politics and find more uplifting places in which to spend my time. I search for those kinds of books and appreciate so much the ones I find with kindness in them.

There. A kind word, a word of encouragement or admiration, could shift the heaviest, most recalcitrant baggage.
~from Precious and Grace, by Alexander McCall Smith

So, my September and October escapes…

April and May Reading

When Spring finally arrives here in Oregon, my reading slows down. Spring is so gorgeous here, and there are so many outdoor things to see and do. Going for long walks and gardening set the pace of each day, and our “Wandering Wednesdays” define each week, so reading time is moved to “in-between.”  I tend to fall asleep while reading at night instead of being able to stay up late to finish a book, and it takes me weeks instead of days to finish a longer book. But I’m okay with that…as long as I have a book going at all times.

Despite all the beautiful distractions during April and May I was able to enjoy and finish these books:

 

Let Them Be Your Friends

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If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.”
     ~ Winston Churchill

A wonderful quote to share with you this morning! It beautifully describes my own love of books and puts my mind at ease when I start to worry about how slowly I am reading these days or how tall my TBR pile has become over the years. It’s not about how many I am able to read, but about how much I love books. And there are so many ways to “read” a book, by finding the perfect word, by reading a wonderful sentence, by enjoying an entire story, or by savoring the illustrations. I love being surrounded by books. I love reading, and Mr. Churchill perfectly explains why. I am rich in friends.

Reading Space Nostalgia

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As I was doing some blog organization this morning, I found this draft of a post long abandoned. The photo is from 3 years ago, when we were still living in our condo in the Seattle area, and the post was intended to show my cozy “reading space” for the Estellagram challenge of that month. I don’t know why I didn’t post it on that day, although I did include it in my summary post of the Estellagram photos of that month (which is why there are some comments attached to it). However, finding the photo this morning made me homesick for that reading spot. Incidentally, the photo also shows my blogging spot — with my laptop on the round table and the view out over the greenbelt. I have other reading and blogging spots now in our new home, but those were particularly nice ones and I didn’t realize that I was missing them until I found this photo!

February and March Reading

Time to catch up with myself and let you know what books I have enjoyed reading in the last two months! I am a happy reader these days and my February and March choices reflect my “relaxing retirement reading” … plenty of mysteries, books about gardens and gardening, a sprinkle of classics, and books by favorite authors. My days are filled up and busy with lots of different kinds of activities now, but I still need and love my reading time. It’s just not about how many books I read anymore, but how I much I enjoy the ones I choose!

 

 

A Day in My Life: A Blogging Event

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My blogging friend, Trish, (Love, Laughter & a Touch of Insanity) is hosting this 2nd annual blogging event. Last year, I so enjoyed reading about people’s lives, but didn’t post about my own. This year, I’m sharing a day in my own life, and will once again enjoy reading about yours!

Two and a half years ago, I retired after teaching for 27 years, and my husband and I moved to a small town in Oregon. The following is my account of a pretty typical day in this retired teacher’s new life.

THURSDAY, MARCH 17, 2016

5:00am:  I wake up at this time no matter what. Inner clocks are incredibly difficult to reset, and even though I’m retired and could sleep-in as long as I want, this is the time my body says to get moving, so I get moving!

5:00-5:45am:  Wake, make a big pot of tea, and read (currently reading my first book by Ann Cleeves, A Bird in the Hand).

tea pot

5:45-6:15am:  Work on my Bullet Journal. One of the joys of retirement is getting up each morning and being able to set my own agenda! Our first year of retirement was pretty unscheduled — footloose and fancy free! Recently, I decided that I needed a little more structure to my day, so I set up my bullet journal and spend time each morning and each evening planning my day and then reflecting on each day. I love this! I’m much more efficient with my time, so I’m getting more reading done, more knitting, taking more long walks, remembering to send birthday cards on time, etc. I’m still setting my own agenda and enjoying my days even more! Delightful!

6:15-7:00am:  This is time usually spent on the computer reading, answering, and sending emails, and catching up on social media. I do a lot on Facebook, which is a nice way to communicate with my Mom and family, and friends and relatives that live near and far.

7:00-9:00am:  I ate breakfast and then got ready for my morning exercise activity. On Mon/Wed/Fri, I go to exercise class at the gym 3 blocks from my house. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I meet a very special exercise buddy. My new friend, Gloria, is an 81-year-old runner! I meet her twice a week to walk/run on the hills near her home. I walk, she runs! Because my legs are long and I have a long walking stride, I can keep up with her (most of the time) while she runs. She’s been running for 40 years, and she has become my mentor as I learn to challenge myself and my body more and more. With her encouragement, I have signed up for a summer’s worth of 5k challenges. Portland Parks and Recreation sponsors 6 summer 5k walk/run events, each one at a different local park. My first ever 5k walk will be on May 15th. Gloria will run and I will walk. What fun! Can’t wait!

9:00am:  Back home, shower, get ready for the rest of the day!

9:15-10:30am:  Housecleaning, laundry, menu-planning. It’s been so rainy recently that I haven’t been out in the yard doing some of those morning tasks, but that will change very soon. Today, I swept the front porch to get ready to put out some potted plants soon.

10:30-11:30am:  I signed up for a Craftsy class on “Designing Edible Gardens,” so this morning I spent an hour working on that class. I take notes in my Bullet Journal, where I keep track of all  the planning I’m doing for our 2016 vegetable garden.

 

11:30-Noon:  Prepare lunch. Today’s lunch was a “rice bowl”… brown rice, stir fry veggies (no oil!), cubed tofu, mandarin orange slices, some slivered raw almonds, and 1/4 cup orange sauce. (Warmed it all up in the microwave.) A simple, but very healthy and satisfying lunch. Two years ago I was overweight, pre-diabetic, and taking 2 blood pressure medications as well as a cholesterol-lowering medication. My new doctor referred me to the Healthy Living department at Kaiser Permanente where I met with a doctor and his nurse who have changed my life! They gave me the information and support needed to change the way I eat.  I have worked hard to change old bad habits and establish a new and healthier lifestyle by eating a completely plant-based diet. The health benefits for me have been enormous. I’ve lost 25 pounds and Kaiser no longer classifies me as obese or pre-diabetic. I no longer take blood pressure medications or cholesterol-lowering medication. “Food is my medicine.” And along with losing weight, I have become much more physically active. I go to exercise class three mornings a week, and meet with my running friend twice a week, so I have a good 1-hour/5 days a week exercise routine. I also go for long walks with my hubby, and ride my bicycle and go hiking when the weather permits.  Simply put, I am feeling better than I have felt in years!

orangericebowl

 

AFTERNOON:

12:30-2:00pm:  Running errands. Fred Meyer, car wash, JoAnn’s for some crafting supplies, and Best Buy to pick up a new exercise tracker to help me do some serious training for my summer of 5k races!

2:15-3:00pm:  Home again. I sat in the recliner, put my feet up, and called my Mom on the phone. I talk with my 96-1/2 year old Mom every day. She lives 800 miles away, but we bridge the distance by having long conversations about health, happenings at her retirement home, and about what we are currently reading. We never get tired of talking about books!

3:00-3:45pm:  Stayed sitting in that recliner and worked on my current knitting project while listening to my current audiobook, In the Wet, by Nevil Shute.

3:45pm:  Stood in the kitchen looking out the greenhouse window at the flock of little birds, the Scrub Jays, and the Acorn Woodpeckers that frequent our bird feeders. I could never get bored looking out that window. There’s a lot of bird (and squirrel and cat) drama to enjoy!

 

4:00-5:00pm:  The Grandboy and his daddy arrived. I was honored with an invitation to join his Minecraft world for awhile!

 

5:00-6:00pm:  I set the table while hubby cooked dinner tonight. He cooked a totally whole foods, plant-based meal for us — Cuban Black Beans. No, he hasn’t given up his meat or cheese (or pastries), but he has been very supportive of my plant-based needs. He likes to cook and bake, so he usually fixes 2 or 3 meals a week (yes, I’m spoiled!). Today, he fixed this one, which is one of our favorites!

6:00-6:30pm:  Dinner.

7:00-8:30pm:  We cleaned the kitchen, and then sat down to watch some TV. We chose a new Nature episode with David Attenborough. Love, love, love David Attenborough!

 

8:30-9:00pm:  Planning and reflection time with my Bullet Journal.

9:00-10:00pm (or so):  Reading in bed until too tired to read anymore. I love this!

Goodnight!

Notes:

** My “retired” days are busy and I love that. Although this has been a day where I mostly described my solo activities, my husband and I do many things together.  When we retired, we started a wonderful tradition of going “exploring” on Wednesdays. We call it our “Wandering Wednesday,” and it started as a way to get to know this new area we moved to. We visit historical sites, botanical gardens, libraries and bookstores, wetlands and forests. We post photos on Facebook for our family and friends to enjoy, and it’s become a delightful highlight of our week.

** I love my new focus on physical activity and healthy living. It just feels so darn good!  A number of years ago I read Reeve Lindbergh’s book, Forward From Here: Leaving Middle Age — and Other Unexpected Adventures. In that book, she said that 60 is the “youth of old age.” I am closer to 70 now than to 60, but I feel more youthful today than I did when I turned 60. Although I haven’t always been good about this, I know how important it is, at any age, to take good care of yourself. My mother is a wonderful role model for aging gracefully and healthfully, and I hope I can do as good a job of moving into my elder years as my mother!

**  This is a new stage of life for me that comes with many, many changes, but the one thing that has remained constant is my passion for reading! With retirement, comes much more time to enjoy my books. What a luxury to be able to sit down and read on the front porch or in my favorite indoor spot at any time I want!

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My favorite reading spot…

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read about “my day in the life.”  Although I don’t post or comment as often as I used to, I still love the blogging community and enjoy visiting your blogs. I love to hear about what you are reading and what is happening in your lives.

Thank you, Trish, for hosting this annual event!

 

Goodbye January

readingJanuary was an enjoyable reading month for me — I read seven books and also celebrated my own birthday as well as the 9th anniversary of the birth of this blog. As usual, my reading was all over the place, from Gloria Steinem’s My Life on the Road, to Anthony Trollope’s The Warden, and each of the 7 books was a good choice for me.

As far as reading challenges go, I usually sign up for a few starting in January, but this year I’ve decided to keep those commitments to a minimum and just focus on my own reading. So I am focusing on my own Goodreads 2016 Reading Challenge, planning on reading at least 75 books, and I joined Emma Watson’s Goodreads feminist book club, “Our Shared Shelf,” and will read the 12 books she chooses for this year. Also, my Mom and I continue our daily phone chats, mostly talking about books, so my reading is strong and healthy and off to a good start for the year. It continues to bring me great joy.

So it is goodbye to January and hello to February which includes an extra day this year for extra reading!

Here are my January reads: