In Which I Explain How I Created My Own Unique 2021 Reading Challenge

I’ve been meaning to write about how I arrived at my personalized 2021 reading challenge, but somehow got off track. I was probably reading a book…

For those of you who enjoy numbers: this is a 12″ high stack of 12 books with a total of 4,248 pages that I plan on reading in 2021. 🤓

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I barely read any books in 2020. My focus was too scattered, my anxiety was high, and I couldn’t stick with it.

I forgive myself for slip sliding away from reading for pleasure last year because I am still here in one piece, healthy, relatively sane– and with a renewed sense of purpose when it comes to reading.

Allow me to explain.

As some of you know I’m a fan of Modern Mrs. Darcy’s blog and get her newsletter. When I saw that she had created a questionnaire that I could use to make my own CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE reading challenge I downloaded the worksheets.

By answering her simple questions, I set my 2021 intention, evaluated my reading needs, and then made a list of twelve prompts that resonated with me based on the concepts of variety and escapism. As Modern Mrs. Darcy says: “Remember, your goal isn’t just to get through this challenge. This challenge is a tool to develop the reading life you want.”

Hallelujah!

But then after further contemplating the reading life I wanted, I had a brainstorm, one in which I devised a way to make this reading challenge more personal– and a bit less costly. Please keep in mind that just because I didn’t read much in 2020 doesn’t mean that I didn’t buy books in 2020.

Thus I found myself thinking back to a decade ago when I read a wonderful memoir, Howards End is on the Landing by Susan Hill.

In this book Hill writes about her decision that for one year she would only re-read books already in the house. That is, she read what she had on hand, then mused upon what her life was like the first time she read the book. This practical approach to deciding what to read next made an impression on me.

Obviously, I guess.

Anyhow, to be clear, I won’t be re-reading anything this coming year, but I will be reading what is here in the house, pre-purchased in good faith you might say– and meant to be read by me, dammit.

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MY 2021 CHOOSE-YOUR-OWN-ADVENTURE-STYLE READ-WHAT-YOU-HAVE-IN-THE-HOUSE-ALREADY READING CHALLENGE

a thriller

a memoir

a fantasy novel

a cozy mystery

a book of short stories

a recent NYT bestseller

a novel previously abandoned

a NYT bestseller from a while ago

a novel based on something literary

a non-fiction book set where I live now

a non-fiction book set somewhere I’ve never visited

a book I’d never heard of yet is on many required reading lists

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Do you do any reading challenges? Have you ever made your own? Inquiring minds wanna know.

Rejoicing With A Glass Of Wine: Cheers To Tenacity & Typos

TENACITY, I GOT IT

AFTER TRYING UNSUCCESSFULLY for three weeks to get wine in our weekly grocery order for curbside pickup, we finally got some wine in the house.

How did we do this, you ask?

We joined an online wine club wherein you pick from their selection of wines and your wine is then delivered, a few weeks later, to your doorstep.  All that is required of you, beyond deciding which bottles of wine you want and having a valid credit card, is to have an adult sign for the wine when it is delivered to your doorstep at an assigned time.

I am an adult, with time on her hands, thus I was more than willing to sign for the wine.  Which I did by standing in my jammies, shamelessly, on our front stoop a week ago Thursday morning at 10:00 a.m.

And by having gray frizzy hair.

The friendly UPS man sized me up from afar as he walked across the lawn carrying the box of wine.  He didn’t bother having me physically sign for the wine, instead he scribbled something on the electronic form and went on his way.

That worked for me, buddy.  No need to be uptight about the signing part of the blessed wine delivery. 😇

Hallelujah!

FUN WITH TYPOS

LAST TUESDAY NIGHT I opened the first bottle of the wine we ordered.  We were having salmon and mashed potatoes and spinach, thus I reasoned a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc would be lovely.

[Truthfully I almost always think a chilled bottle of Sauvignon Blanc would be lovely, but I digress.]

As I was sipping the first glass of wine to cross my lips in quite some time, I decided to read the back label on the bottle of wine.  I like to know what I’m supposed to be tasting according to the vineyard.  Plus I’m into marketing, so I do like well-written copy.

When I can find it.

And even when I can’t…

Below is a photograph of the back label on the bottle of wine. Can you see the typo? The numerical one that made me smile?

And with that I’ll end this post by telling you we enjoyed this bottle of wine.  Perhaps it was because of all the effort it took to get it.  Or, perhaps it was because it taught me a profound lesson: YOU CAN’T JUDGE A WINE BY ITS TYPO. 😉

Happy Weekend, everyone.

In Which I Answer 20 Questions Because It’s Something Fun To Do

I haven’t done anything like this in a long time, so why not change it up? After all, variety is the spice of life blogging. Therefore today I’m answering 20 questions I found on View from the Back who got them from The Life And Travels Of Mrs Suvi

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Your most memorable fancy dress costume?

A few years ago I wore a purple cocktail dress with silver sparkly trim to a black-tie business event that was a horrible affair. I was physically and emotionally uncomfortable the whole evening: my dress was tight & my feet hurt while I was standing in a room filled with status-seeking people cursed with negative energy. I vowed to never do anything like it again– and I haven’t.

Which social media platform do you use the most?

WordPress

Favourite season?

• Autumn

If you had to choose the beach or mountains, which would it be?

• I’d choose the beach because I like walking on sand, looking at the waves, searching for shells or driftwood, BUT I choose this with the proviso that I can visit the mountains whenever I want to.

What can you play very well?

• Candy Crush Soda Saga

What kind of cheese do you like?

• All non-stinky kinds

Life goal?

• To put things or ideas or people together. Metaphorically speaking I see puzzle pieces everywhere and want to make the picture whole. Or maybe I see tesserae everywhere and want to make my own mosaic. In either case I put things together.

How many cities have you lived in?

• I’ll answer this by defining cities as metropolitan regions, thus my answer is 8.

What language do you wish you could speak?

• Spanish

What can’t you stand?

• A mocking tone of voice. The idea that education is of no value. Green peppers.

If you have an hour to kill on your hands, what would you do?

• Depending on the situation I’d: go for a walk;  read a book &/or some blogs;  play a game on my phone;  or become a lounge lizard watching the people go by.

Your favorite routine?

• I’d say it’s showing up to my blog at least once a week, usually on Tuesday, and talking with everyone in the comments. Like I’m doing now. *Hi!*

When do you become hyperactive?

• When I’m forced to travel by plane, often leaving the house before the break of day, I become hyperactive with worry about locking the house and all things related to the hassle at the airport. It makes me crazy until I’m sitting at my gate.

Text message or phone call?

• Text message

Your most precious treasure?

• I like things, but as for precious treasure I’m not sure any one thing would rate that designation. I mean, any thing I have can be replaced so how precious is it really?

Your latest foreign language mistake?

• I probably mispronounced some French word. The few I know trip me up when I try to say them.

What’s the best therapy for you?

• A glass of chilled dry white wine sipped while gazing into nature

If you could be a fictional character, who would you be?

• I rather liked Piper in Charmed. She could make a great meal, stop time in order to decide what to do next, and vanquish evil when necessary. Plus she married her true love. All-in-all, she’s my kind of badass.

Where would you like to travel?

• Dreaming big here: UK. Ireland. Italy. Hawaii. Australia. NZ. Vietnam. South Africa. Argentina.

Where did you meet your spouse/partner?

• We met in college. In fact, this past Valentine’s Day we received a card from our alma mater telling us that we are among about 2,000 couples who met on campus. Of course the Valentine’s Day card was also a solicitation for monies making the card less lovable, but the factoid was interesting.

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If you decide to do this on your own blog please link back to this post so I can go read what you wrote. Deal?

What The Sheriff Saw: A Story About Yours Truly Doing Her Gardening Chores

I want to tell you what happened. I didn’t quite understand what really happened as it happened and it was only after Zen-Den gently walked me to an epiphany that I got what happened.

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THE OTHER MORNING AROUND 9:00 a.m. I decided to water the planters that are on the stoop in front of the house by the front door. I do this using an old Rubbermaid aqua-colored 2 1/4 quarts plastic pitcher whose white lid I lost decades ago.

As I was watering these planters I looked over in the bushes to where we have a medium-sized concrete urn that holds a spike plant. Because it’s been more dry around here than usual the poor spike looked droopy, so I got more water in my repurposed pitcher, now watering can, and stepped into our bushes in front of the windows in front of the house to water the thirsty plant.

I probably should add at this point that I was wearing Stewart plaid flannel jammies, a bright pink fleece jacket, dark teal suede house slippers, and had my curly mess of graying blonde hair pulled up, with a neon orange elastic band, into an off-kilter pineapple-style ponytail on top of my head.

Oh, and I was wearing dark glasses because it was sunny outside.

• • •

THERE’S BEEN A CHIPMUNK hanging around the front of the house all summer and as I was watering the spike I saw it scurry by me on its way to the other side of the front of the house. I do not like the damage that chipmunks can cause so I stopped watering and glared at the little rodent to see where it was going.

And, of course, I yelled a few random death threats at it.

As one does.

Suddenly I had a strange feeling and realized I was not alone. That out on the street in a large black SUV someone was watching me as I stood there.

And who was this person watching me? A sheriff who had happened to notice me as he was driving by. He’d rolled down his passenger side window to get a closer look at me and when I saw him, he waved.

I smiled and waved back while holding up my repurposed pitcher, then started pouring water into the concrete urn to show him I belonged where I was. I wasn’t a burglar hiding in the bushes, I was just the lady of the house doing a chore.

He smiled back, nodded his head, rolled up the window, and went on his way.

• • •

LATER THAT NIGHT I told Z-D what had happened and how funny I thought it was that a sheriff thought I was a miscreant attempting to break into our house.

As if.

Zen-Den listened to my story and conclusion, then quietly suggested that what the sheriff thought he saw probably didn’t register with him as a burglary in progress.

Instead from the sheriff’s perspective what he saw was an addlepated gray-haired senior citizen, perhaps suffering from dementia and jibber-jabbering to herself, wandering around in the bushes in her nightclothes, seemingly confused, while carrying a random kitchen item with her.

And darn it to heck, Zen-Den is right. That’s exactly what the sheriff saw.

Fun With Pedicures: Conning Mr. Man, If Only For A Moment

It’s not easy to pull the wool over Zen-Den’s eyes. He’s smart and lawyerly and hyper-aware of liars. But for a moment I had him going, so I have to share it here. For posterity. For snorts and giggles.

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

I.  In the photo above the color of nail polish you see on my toenails is unusual for me.  I usually go clear/pale OR dark/bright.  I rarely wear halfway/medium colors like you see above.

II.  OPI nail polishes, which I prefer, are grouped into cleverly named collections.  For instance a pale pink called Bubble Bath might be found in the Always Bare For You Collection.  A bright pink red called California Raspberry might be found in the Fan Faves Collection.  [These particular colors are so old that they’re no longer featured in any collection, but I’m making a point here so please go with it.]

III.  After wearing Bubble Bath for a few weeks I decided it was too blah for me.  No character.  So on a whim as a way of zhooshing it up, I mixed a bit of California Raspberry with it.  I figured I’d create a new medium color.  And I did.  That’s what you see on my toenails in the photo.

THE CON *tee-hee*

Z-D came home from work the other night and noticed the pink color of my fresh pedicure.  He looked down at my feet and asked me if I had a rash on my toes.  I instantly realized that he thought my created shade of pink was calamine lotion.

So I told him: “No, that’s a new shade of nail polish.  It’s called Chicken Pox Pink, part of OPI’s new Childhood Illnesses Collection.”

He said nothing, just kept staring at my toes.

So I continued: “There are other colors in the collection, like Measles Mauve and Flu Shot Fuchsia.”

With a totally confused look on his face he said: “There’s a nail polish collection called Childhood Illnesses?”

I said: “Oh yes, there’s Bronchitis Burgundy and…”

He interrupted: “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS THIS COLLECTION.”

But I kept going: “Boo-Boo Bunny Beige and…”

He said: “You’re making this up.”

I said: “Oh no, this is for real.  There’s Drippy Nose Rose and…”

At which point Zen-Den, shaking his head in disbelief and laughing, wandered away from the conversation, as if I might not be telling the truth.  Can you imagine that?

THE END