Summer, Summer, Summer…

Red River, New Mexico.

Faculty summer continues apace here at JOMP and that means a lot of messing around doing not much in particular. I’ve been reading but not at the rapid pace I typically do, although reasons for this are unclear. I think I was choosing titles that weren’t that appealing so I kept putting them down and doing almost anything else but that. 

Now – I’ve cleared the decks and picked out a couple of new titles (details to come) and I’m hoping that that will do the trick. 

Otherwise, I’ve been doing addicting word search puzzles, napping and getting some jobs done. I spent yesterday doing 5000 errands (exhausting but productive!) and today I need to go to the gym for a spell and then I’m hoping to hear from my doc about a current health issue going on. He’s usually pretty ok on returning messages so fingers crossed. 

Happened to visit our big local mall yesterday (see errands mentioned above) and it was so interesting (in a sociological kind of way) to people-watch all the teenagers who were hanging out there. Very polite. Very well-behaved. I was impressed. Had a fun time looking at their sartorial choices! Can’t judge them as I am CERTAIN that when I was the same age, I was making similar clothing selections: it was just fun to watch! 😉

And now I’m actually in the office. My contract requires that I spend one day/week in my office and so that’s what I’m doing. 

Oh, and we went camping. Now – I am not the world’s biggest camping person but we have a small camper trailer that we take out every now and then, and this time we trucked to Red River, New Mexico, where it was gorgeous. Look at how green everything is. (Normally it is a semi-arid environment so lots of brown. I think there’s been lots of rain recently or similar.) 

As per, the SuperHero went above-and-beyond to provide an awesome experience – I just wish that we didn’t have to drive six hours to get there (each way). But it was worth it. 

Now, I’m off to read the AP Style Book (my usual summer project) and then I might have something to eat. Nom nom nom. 

Some friendly neighbors…. (Chipmonks?)

Having a catch up…

Summer continues apace and it’s been fun. There’s been a lot of messing around, a bit of mucking about and slacking off and I’ve been working on the chilling-out mindset like a crazy woman. 😉 

So – what have I been doing? Let’s see. I’ve been reading (and owe the blog a review or two); I’ve been writing (still work to be done at the office); I’ve been snoozing and working out quite a bit, and I’ve been cooking and looking at recipes. (I know – who is this alien who is currently inhabiting my body with interest enough to enter the kitchen to create dishes, not just eat them?)

The animals have been very happy to have me home a lot more than in the Spring. They’re so sweet. When you’re busy in life, they can seem quite peripheral but spending time with them this summer has been delightful and fun for all of us. Diablo Cat is sitting in my reading chair and stare-dozing in my direction (as cats do). Nova Dog is snoozing in the hall corridor and Fergus Cat is outside doing whatever she does out there. It’s all go at the JOMP household. 

Oh wait. We did do something productive today: we worked out at the gym and now I’m going to start playing with (i.e., reorganizing) my bookshelves. I’m such a book nerd. 🙂

This week has plans for the Superhero and I to go caravan-camping in New Mexico (at the end of the week) so we need to prep for that. My past history would dictate that camping is dreadful but now we have this caravan-thing, it’s much more civilized and we know (royal “we” – it’s really all the Superhero) more about what we’re doing. I’m really looking forward to it. 

Hope your summers are going well. 

Summer Plans…

I’ve now properly started my Summer of Liz which means oodles of free time for me (I’m very lucky), and I’ve been thinking of how I’d like to spend my time. (Doing loads of very worthy and world-changing activities, I’m sure… HA.) 

Actually, I’m not sure what I’m going to do but I do know it’s going to involve going to the gym and the pool (for the lazy river, naturally!); it’s going to consist of lots of reading; and I’m determined to continue with this slightly out-of-character interest in cooking new recipes. 

(I think this is what happens if you binge-watch a couple of seasons of the Great British Baking Show. I’m not that interested in baking sweet stuff so I tend to focus more on savory recipes. If I’m going to cook, I may as well make it something ready for supper… Two-birds-with-one-stone idea. If I’m honest, I am also not the greatest with fiddly baking stuff either.) 

Recipes so far have included spinach and feta cheese wrapped up in individual puff pastry packets (yum); lemon chicken; roasted turkey tenderloins with herb sauce and pork tenderloin with figs — all new recipes to me and all worthy of repeating. 🙂

Reading-wise, I think I’d like to focus on my own TBR pile for a while and see what progress I can make there. I do love the library and I’m sure I’m going to continue my visits there — I’d just like to continue my ongoing focus on my own books as well. (I also need to turn off that One-Click option on Amazon… 😉 )

I’d also bet that there will be a jigsaw puzzle or two to keep me busy. 

To contribute to communal life, I volunteered some time with the local Friends of the Library group which was fun and worthwhile. I’ll probably repeat that again sometime soon. Messing around with books? Going to the library? No pressure to be sociable? Yes please.

And then I’d really like to get some culture so I’m planning on seeing what exhibits our museums and art centers have going on. Haven’t been to them for some time so interested in catching what’s new (to me, at least). And linked with this, I’d like to pick up my camera and doing some photog stuff again as well. 

So, we’ll see how this progresses. None of this stuff is “have-to-do” and if it happens, that’s great. If not, no pressure there either. Win-win. 

I do like summer (especially since our region hasn’t hit the highest temperatures yet so it’s not too brutal to spend time outside right now). I hope your summer is going smoothly as well. 

A Gentleman in Moscow – Amor Towles (2016)

“By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsideration – and unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour.”

Just loved this read by author Amor Towles – enough so that I immediately went to the library and booked out his other book, Rules of Civility and am very looking forward to that read.

(This rarely happens so fingers are crossed that it’s a good read. It was published in 2011 so a few years ago now and on his author website, he seems to have written some other well-received works so more to dig into at some point. Oooh. And he’s written an intro to the 75th anniversary edition of Fitzgerald’s Tender in the Night (Scribner, 2019). (Impressive.))

So what’s so good about this Towles/Gentleman in Moscow? I think one of the main attractions was that it was so well written. Towles is a master at the written word and he’s developed an interesting character in Count Alexander Rostov that I really cared about and thought about, even if I wasn’t actually reading the text at that particular moment.

The gentleman in question is a Russian count who has been given a lifetime sentence in 1922 for a perceived infraction against the government. This sentence means that he can live for the rest of his days in a lovely posh hotel but he can never leave the premises so this isn’t a high-action novel or anything. It’s a thoughtful and fascinating look at a man who tries his best to make the most of a bad situation and who has lived a full life prior to the incarceration.  

Rostov has never held a job but he is well-educated and witty. With this enforced sentence, he is forced to watch history change Russia as it happens outside his windows. Just fascinating and difficult to put down.

There is no doubt that this will be in the year’s Top Ten Books at the end of the year. For sure.

“After all, an educated man should admire any course of study no matter how arcane, if it be pursued with curiosity and devotion.”

And then I just liked this quote:

“As at home in a tin as it is in Limoges, coffee can energize the industrious at dawn, calm the reflective at noon, or raise the spirits of the beleaguered in the middle of the night.”

Travel: New Mexico Camping.

This is our Tiger Moth camper and the truck (which blocked the wind from the cold North that weekend.)

With the pandemic as it is (as I’m sure you know), it has meant a LOT of staying home and not traveling so the Superhero and I were getting some itchy feet and decided to visit the Maxwell National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico the other weekend.

Now I’m not the biggest fan of camping in the world but one way I’ve learned that I do like is to take our tiny camper and the truck and drive off to the wilds somewhere. It was a five-hour drive one way (so quite a hike) but for distances around here in West Texas, that’s not too bad…

And you know what? It was really fun. I was so surprised. (Past experiences have not been that way, but they were long ago with different equipment and levels of attitude, as well. 🙂 )

For this trip, the Superhero had gone above and beyond in terms of being well organized and producing meals out in the open and I wanted for nothing that we didn’t have. (Very impressive to me.) It was so quiet out on the grasslands. Since it is open prairie, there are no trees and the view was never-ending.

The sunsets were amazing (see pic above) and you could hear the wildlife around you: mostly birds during the day and then a pack of coyotes at night. (Surprisingly, our dog (who came with us) didn’t really react to this, not even a bark or a growl. Perhaps she knew that there were more of them than of her?)

So – not a lot of reading but we did listen to an audio book on the drive there and back – lots of time to do that! – and then I read more the next day. The camping experience was worth it though and I’m looking forward to the next time (may be later this summer).

March 2021 Reading Review

The reads for March 2021 included:

So to the (rather obsessive!) numbers:

  • Total number of books read in February 202116.
  • Total number of pages read 3,266 pages (av. 266). 
  • Fiction/Non-Fiction10 fiction / non-fiction. 1 play.
  • Diversity 3 BIPOC. books by women.
  • Library books vs. books I owned (and thus removed from the home abode): library books, owned books (whee!) and e-books.

So I had a productive reading month which was really fun. Plus, I also pulled out some cross-stitch and finally finished up a project that I’ve working on for quite a while. Just need to get it framed and then it’s done. 🙂