Thursday, October 22, 2020

pleasant diversions

Our world is pretty darn stressful right now with the pandemic (or dampanic, as Susan Branch calls it), our (USA) current administration and out-of-control wildfires. Add personal stressors on top of it, and it's enough to make anyone run for the hills. Don't forget your mask. And better hope the hill isn't on fire.

Here in far northeast Illinois, we've hit another surge of COVID cases and deaths. Most restaurants are now closed again for indoor dining. I'd been taking Clementine inside the vet's office for her twice weekly subcutaneous fluids and starting today, just like back in the late spring, we have to stay in the car and the vet tech comes out to get her.

While we're all (mostly) stuck inside, sometimes it feels good to just snuggle up on the couch or in the bed and immerse yourself in a good book, lose yourself in some beautiful music, or watch an engaging movie or TV show. I thought it'd be fun to share what we're reading, what music we're listening to, and what movies or TV shows we're watching. Sometimes it's too easy to stick with the same types of books or music, so maybe we'll discover something new to read, listen to or watch. 

As an introvert and avid reader, I've always been surrounded by books and have my nose stuck in one. I just tried reading four fiction books and couldn't get into any of them. So I'm back to reading my usual non-fiction. I'm currently reading David Kessler's newest book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. If you're not familiar with Kessler, he's written many books on death and grieving, including two co-written with psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. We're all probably familiar with the five stage of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. Even though Kessler was a grief "expert", when his 21-year old son died of an accidental overdose, his life, of course, was upended and writing this book was a way to work through all the stages of grief - including this new stage he came up with - and to honor his son. As most of you know, my oldest son, Philip passed away 11 years ago ~ also at age 21 and from an accidental drug overdose. This book is insightful for anyone who has lost a loved one and is on the healing end of their grief journey.
Simple Abundance is a book I read year-round, as it's divided into months. And every day of the month has an short essay. Even if you miss a few days ~ or weeks, it's easy to pick up this book and just start where you left off. This book first came out in 1995 but the new edition (which I have below) came out in November 2019. This book is all about women's spirituality and following your own true path.

I didn't start truly listening to music until I was a pre-teen. Back then in the early 70's, I rode my bike around the neighborhood with my transistor radio in the basket on the front of my bike. And on Saturdays when I got my allowance, I couldn't wait to walk to K-Mart and pick out the newest "45". One record I remember playing over and over ~ even taking it to my friend's house and playing it on her record player, too ~ was Radar Love by Golden Earring. Now I just have a few CDs that I still haven't parted with (I do listen to them in my car) and my Spotify playlist.

 I played the piano and flute growing up, but I didn't choose to play the piano. It was something my mother said I was going to do. Back in those days, we just said OK and did it. Did I enjoy it? Only the casual playing part. I hated the lessons and the 30-minute per day practicing. I did choose to play the flute when I was in junior high ~ and that continued through high school.

 My favorite genre of music is classic rock ~ that's probably from being a teen in the 70's ~ but I also like alternative rock, folk music, bluegrass, jazz, disco, Motown, Indie, instrumental (piano or guitar), some classical, and vocal swing. I love discovering new artists, so share away! I hope you enjoy a couple of my picks.

Billie Eilish is only 18 years old but wow, what a beautiful, sultry voice!

It's no surprise that Kurt Vile paired up with John Prine on this song: Kurt was influenced by Prine in his early music career. This song was recorded just four months before Prine's death in April 2020.

As for TV and movies, I'm not much into either. I've just now turned the boob tube back on after having it off the entire summer, except for a cooking show here and there. I'm more likely to have my nose stuck in a book or be on my laptop writing emails or researching something. My blogging friend, Dewena recently recommended that I watch Angela, aka "The Parisienne Farmgirl" and Shaye at "The Elliott Homestead" on YouTube. I follow both of them on Instagram but haven't watched their videos yet. 

So I'm probably late to the game, but we're just now watching Schitt's Creek. We watched the first two episodes when it first came out, but couldn't get into it. Last month we decided to try one more time, this time saying we'd give it four episodes. It worked. We are hooked. It's light-hearted and hilarious ~ something we need these days.

I read about this movie on the Greater Good website and it piqued my interest, though I haven't watched it yet. On my to-watch list!

"Driveways studies how learning to cope with the loss of relationships can help create new, meaningful ones. Because the fulfillment of this essential psychological need is so strong, these ties can be forged between people who are seemingly very different from each other. Everyone must carry something heavy, from time and time—and Driveways highlights how leaning on each other can lighten our burdens." (Maryam Abdullah, Greater Good)

My son is very much into movies, especially ones with deep meaning that leave you thinking and guessing. He watched this one recently and recommended it, so it's another that's on my to-watch list.

"When I got to the end of Charlie Kaufman’s I’m Thinking of Ending Things, I had to ask myself: What the heck was that about? After I watched it a second time, I came to understand a few things about this beautiful, unsettling, complex, melancholy film.

To begin, I don’t believe it’s a spoiler to reveal that the movie is a character study, and that it takes place entirely inside that one achingly lonely mind. But what’s the story about? In my view, I’m Thinking of Ending Things is really about goodness, but what makes this story a tragedy is that the goodness goes unseen and unappreciated by others.

At one point, his girlfriend (Jessie Buckley) praises Jake (Jesse Plemons) for taking care of his dying mother. “I’m glad to hear you say that,” he says. “That makes me feel better. Sometimes, it feels like no one sees the good things you do. You’re just alone.” She whispers to him, “I see it.”

However, this wonderful girlfriend doesn’t exist outside of his head, and the tragedy is that Jake needed to invent someone to see his very real goodness. She is variously named Lucy, Louisa, Lucia, and Ames; she’s sometimes a physicist, sometimes a painter; once a poet, again a film critic. When Jake’s elderly parents need their pain recognized, she becomes a gerontologist.

Throughout all these metamorphoses, she stays smart, grounded, and funny. She’s not a doormat or a manic pixie dream girl, as we might expect from decades of Hollywood movies. She’s something new to cinema: the imaginary woman who is wiser and realer than the shadow of a man who imagines her. She becomes what Jake could have been, if he’d been luckier. The movie left me wondering what goodness I might be missing, in the people I encounter. I could be missing a lot of bad, too; I’m Thinking of Ending Things doesn’t shy away from how much social invisibility hurts Jake. He’s not a bad man, but he is a damaged one.

By the end, we can see him whole, good and bad. It’s confusing, that karmic mixture, because we like to see clear-cut heroes and villains in our stories. When we don’t, it’s ourselves we begin to see, good and bad." (Jeremy Adam Smith, Greater Good)

What are you reading, listening to and watching? Or what do you recommend? Please share in the comments!

May you be well, peaceful, healthy and safe.


  1. I love posts like these.
    Music is so good for so many things. I will take a listen to both of those.
    So I had seen that Netflix movie and watched the trailer and both Mike and I were like OMG what did we just watch? We thought it was a horror movie! But after reading your review, I want to watch it! I need to give it more thought.

    We love Schitt's Creek now. It took us almost two years! We didn't begin to love it until halfway through season two. It has become our new Gilmore Girls. :)

  2. Love Schitt's Creek. Binge watch the episodes awhile back and loved it. I love music anytime. Music has such a way of letting your mind focus or check out if needed. Hope you are doing well and enjoying the week. xoxo Kris

  3. Well, I'm not much for movies. But I do like British series I can stream. I'm not a fan of music either. My vet's office has not let anyone go inside since this Covid began. You have to stay in your car and call and say you're there. And they come out and get your pet. My vet is probably 76 by now, so I can see why they protect him.

  4. I'm a huge music lover, always have been. My mom sang on Broadway and my girls sing, as well. There was/ is always music playing in the house. I listen to it all...but I too love 70's classic rock. My sisters were teenagers in the 70's and I have great memories of that music playing in their rooms.

  5. I enjoyed Schitt's Creek and also "The Crown". I most often like to watch mystery / investigation series, too, which are also my favorite type of books to read. Tho, I did just finish a non-fiction book called "Just Mercy" which was such a moving, interesting book about death row and incarceration in the USA. A really well-written book by Bryan Stevenson that I highly recommend. It does make one question the entire criminal justice system of the USA. So many changes are needed in that area.

  6. Our vet never started letting people back in the office all during this time. Sometimes I wonder if they ever will as maybe it's more efficient for them not to. I hate not being in there with ours! I hope Clementine's lab numbers will show an improvement, Melanie.

    This is a time for reading and music and even television. I turn off the news as soon as my husband leaves the house in the morning and usually enjoy the quiet for a while before turning on my music. My family made me try Pandora back when it came out and I gave it a good shot but then gave everything back to them and went back to my CDs, wish I'd kept my LPNs years ago. I enjoy classic rock from 50s to 80s and often have it on when I'm cleaning house but I prefer classical and my favorite singing group is Pink Martini, have all theirs. And I love movie soundtracks, like my favorite from A Good Year. And now it will be Christmas music! I did study piano for 8 years until I graduated high school and loved practicing but gave my piano to the granddaughters a few years back.

    I've lost my patience for television commercials but still watch the Sunday Morning show on CBS. And I nearly always watch Masterpiece Theater and Mystery on PBS on Sunday nights. But Netflix and Prime and Youtube are my sources now. The new remake of Rebecca just started on Netflix this week and it was very good, not as good as the original black and white but still good. And I watch all the British movies I can find and I love series from the Scandinavian countries, either subtitles or English dubbed in. Borgen from Norway was really good and timely with its climate control theme. I do have 4 vloggers I enjoy on Youtube.

    As far as reading, my time for reading upsetting books passed a couple of decades ago. Now I read to escape real life. I do read nonfiction, keep one going all the time but it is biographies and nature books that I like. And after feeling that I'd wasted my money recently buying newly published books, I've gone back to my favorite authors on my shelves. I like to collect all the books a favorite writer has written and have gone back to adding to them. I don't like to read on a screen so it's only a book I can hold in my hands that I read.

    Sorry for the long comment but you did ask!

  7. It's been awhile since I made time to read a book, but have decided I need to do that. I'm currently in the middle of My Dear Hamilton, the historical fiction story about Eliza Hamilton, wife to founding father, Alexander. Our family fell in love with the musical this summer and have enjoyed researching and learning about that time in America's history.
    I have several new books regarding homekeeping and hospitality that I'll dig into over the winter.
    As for music, 70s classic rock will always be my favorite. We do listen to classical and other genres. A new favorite is blues guitarist Joe Bonamossa. We saw him in concert a little over a year ago and he's phenomenal.
    Movies and TV - I'm not watching anything worth mentioning at the moment. There's are several shows I want to watch, but am saving them for after the holidays.

  8. Hi Melanie, I too have been reading some books on grief and I started going to a grief share group about 5 weeks ago. It's very small, not many people want to be out, so spacing ourselves is not hard with a small group. It is helping and I've made friends with another women that attends. So that is good too. The movie trailer Driveways looks interesting to me, I think I'll give it a try tonight. I've spend today alone, but yesterday my neighbor called with a quilting problem, so I invited her over and we had a great time out in the barn sewing and solving her dilemma. This COVID thing is getting old, but what can we do . . . keeping positive and doing the best we can to be careful and still stay connected to community is my best answer. One day at a time . . . that's all we have.
    God bless you and your family,
    Connie :)

  9. Just happened to pop by to read a few of your posts. I have been needing calm, peaceful books so I have been reading through several of the Reminisce Books. I read We Had Everything But Money about the Great Depression. Then I read Tough Times, Strong Women about women who have held their families together, or worked when mist didn't, Rosie the Riveter and such. Then I started Life on the Farm about experiences before 1960 on American farms.


Thank you for taking the time to leave a kind comment - I read and appreciate each one!