.7% Well Read

I’ve read 3 more books on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list. Bringing me up to a whopping .7% Well Read in the challenge. They were:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Another DailyLit special and one I loved. The Awakening was recommended to me by a friend from high school many, many years ago and I can’t believe it had taken me this long to read it. It’s one of the few books that I could picture myself rereading some day.

The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, also from DailyLit. My neighbor’s dad had recommended Wilkie Collins to me last summer and I was excited to find him on the list – and writing mysteries. Mysteries I think of as my “Well Read” cheat. Which brings up to…

Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers, which is one of two Sayers mysteries on the list. I’ve already read the other – The Nine Tailors. This was an amusing one, set in an advertising agency. It was a good mystery, although I was a bit lost in the chapter that took place during a cricket game. (Picture me going: “I have no idea what that means.”) In any event, I am happy to have discovered Sayers through this list, but I don’t understand why she has two mysteries on the list to Agatha Christie’s one. They are pretty similar and I have to say I slightly prefer the Christie mysteries I’ve read.

In any event, three more books down. 3 more to go. I’m certainly not going to complete the challenge in the one per month time frame, but it’s still amusing to keep slogging away at it – and I have discovered some books that I really love (Anna Karenina, The Awakening) that I probably would never have gotten around to reading otherwise.

.7% Well Read

7 Good Things

This is something new I’m going to try – to write every week about 7 good things – things that happened to me or that I am grateful for. It’s sort of a cross between the Quick Takes that a friend from college does on her blog, and a gratitude journal, which I have been reading a bit about lately. (Do you know that people who keep them tend to be happier? It seemed like a good habit to get into). Here is my first attempt. These are my 7 good things from the last week:

Relaxing weekends. Last weekend was such a lovely weekend – we went to the book festival, we watched a lot of football, we read. I worked on the guest room quilt that I have been neglecting and got some cleaning and errands done. It was a nice and easy and slow weekend with no “have-to-do” items. I need to figure out how to have more of those in my life.

Football. Is it weird to be grateful for football? Because I am. I love that I now have an excuse to hang around the house all day on Sundays. And football is perfect motivation for getting a little cleaning done by a perfect time. It’s great to do laundry during (I find folding laundry so much more enjoyable if there is something to watch on TV) – and it’s a total excuse to cook things that take a while (I mean you are just hanging around the house any way. I’m glad the season has started – and that I have months to still enjoy it.

Pets. This is on my mind right now because my parent’s dog is nearing the end of her life, but I am so happy to have Charlie and Walter. As much as they drive me crazy sometimes – barking and meowing when I first get home and want a moment to decompress, stealing my covers in the night… There is nothing better than a pet that loves you, that is so happy to see you, that wants to curl right up on your lap or by your side and be with you. Pets ease the edges on rough days.

Apple Spice Bread (and Julia Child). I was home on Monday waiting for a repairman to come give an estimate, so I figured I might as well bake something. Now, for the record, until this summer, I NEVER baked and I still don’t really consider myself a baker. But I have learned how to make some muffins/scones/quick breads to use up fruit from our CSA and right now we are blessed with an abundance of apples. I don’t really like apples – not just to snack on and not even in apple pie (sacrilege, I know). But I thought that maybe I would like them in bread or a muffin, so I went searching for a recipe – and found this one. I baked it Monday morning while waiting. After 45 minutes, I took it out. 10 minutes later (per the recipe) I turned it over to remove it from the pan. Plop. A sizeable chunk of the bread from the middle fell out onto the counter. Disaster. But it smelled so good. I really wanted to eat it. So channeling Julie Child (“when you are alone in the kitchen, who’s to knooooooow?”), I spooned up the uncooked portion, put it back in the piece it was missing from and stuck the bread back in the oven (for another 20! minutes). And let me tell you – that bread was amazing. So amazing that I can’t wait to make it again.

Saying No. I have a hard time saying no. I’m much better than I used to be, but my default response when someone asks me to do something to say sure. Part of being generally agreeable, I guess. Anyway, Jami and I found us in this situation that has been stressing us out – heading up a group at the Ethical Society, where we are members, and on Monday (while waiting on the repairman), I wrote and said we couldn’t do it any more. And it felt good – to be free of the responsibility, and also to remind myself that I don’t have to do things that are stressful to me or that I don’t enjoy. (I mean, every once in a while I do – getting a cavity filled, and the like – but that makes it even more important and I not do the stressful things that I have a choice in). I read on a blog this week to only do the things that make you say “Hell yeah”. And I am trying to remember that. That if I am not truly enthusiastic about it, to not add the responsibility.

Our CSA. It is amazing. (This may be one of my good things for the next few weeks until it ends for the season and I am left bereft). We get some much really good produce – vegetables, fruit, and this week apple cider. Amazing. It has encouraged me to cook more seasonally – and to cook things that I wouldn’t necessarily choose myself at the supermarket, which is awesome. And it has gotten me to get over (a lot of) my fear of baking. I’m already looking forward to next year.

Interesting work and helpful co-workers. Work was in general stressful this week. The research load has really picked back up after about a month of relative slowness (August is dead in DC), and I never really felt on top of things this week. I hate feeling like I’m playing catch-up. That said, I still managed to complete and post 3 electronic legislative histories this week and I have 2 more in progress. I love creating legislative histories – I think it appeals to my compulsive side – collecting all the documents for one public law and also gives me a bit of a challenge (tracking down hearings in particular can be tricky). I am so lucky to have a job where doing so is both expected and encourage. And I couldn’t have done all that work this week without the help of one of my coworkers who pulled most of the document for 4 of those histories. Like I said, I’m lucky.

7 Good Things