Rejoice and be Merry

Christmas Wreath
Rejoice and be merry in songs and in mirth!
O praise our redeemer, all mortals on earth!
For this is the birthday of Jesus our King,
Who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing!

A heavenly vision appeared in the sky;
Vast numbers of angles the shepherds did spy,
Proclaiming the birthday of Jesus our King,
Who brought us salvation, his praises we’ll sing!

Likewise a bright star in the sky did appear,
Which led the wise men from the east to draw near;
They found the Messiah, sweet Jesus our King,
Who brought us salvation, his praises we’ll sing!

And when they were come, they their treasures unfold,
And unto him offered myrrh, incense, and gold.
So blessed forever be Jesus our King,
Who brought us salvation, His praises we’ll sing!

Rejoice and be merry in songs and in mirth!
O praise our redeemer, all mortals on earth!
For this is the birthday of Jesus our King,
Who brought us salvation, his praises we’ll sing!

(English Traditional)

Wishing a very Merry Christmas to You and Yours!

~ Amanda ~

The First of Fall?

Autumn Bouquet

And so it is September.

Very technically, the change of seasons, from summer to autumn, isn’t for another few weeks, but once we reach September, in my mind it is here–school has resumed (for those still living by its seasonal schedules); the light is both less and of a different (different, not better or worse) quality; the autumn harvest starts to come in, apples and squash and pumpkins; footballs (of the American variety) are starting to tumble through the air. So much says that a change is afoot.

And it’s finally starting to feel like autumn is just around the corner; since yesterday, it’s been cool and rainy (very rainy – hello tropical storm Gordon remnants). Although, only last weekend it seemed as if summer should never end, so hot and humid it was once again. And the forecast promises more heat and sun soon.

I’m tempted to say, “where has the summer gone,” though in reality I know quite well. It’s gone to work and other busyness. August is a little more mysterious – I know the workload wasn’t as heavy as earlier this year, and my evenings weren’t as full, yet it feels like it vanished quicker than it should.

Cleveland Musuem of Art Atrium - Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors

I did indulge in a rare moment of spontaneity to take the opportunity to visit the Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrors exhibit at the Cleveland Museum of Art (there through the end of the month, before moving to Atlanta, I believe). It’s a very hard ticket to get, but a coworker had a spare, so I found myself at the museum on a Tuesday morning, taking wonderful advantage of both a lovely day and my employer’s wonderful flex-time policy.

Work-wise, I also participated in a round-table discussion about pay equity in architecture. It was really interesting to me, hearing the different experiences and perspectives of women (and a few men) of various ages and experiences. There was a definite emphasis on “know your worth,” but there was also discussion – what do you do if you find out you aren’t being paid fairly? It’s one of those sorts of discussions where you don’t necessarily come out of it with answers, but I think a number of tips were shared for how to advocate for yourself. And the point was also made: compensation is about respect–if you are underpaid, it shows a lack of respect.

But as far as reading…August was not such a good month. I only finished two books, one of which was primarily read in July. And neither was my Classics Spin book. I guess this is in part the consequence of being in the middle of one real doorstop (Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norell), which although quite enjoyable is taking its time. Similarly, the Spin selection, Tess of the D’Urbervilles, although not really that long (about 400 pages in my edition), is not a fast-paced book. I find that reading about one chapter in a sitting is about right, and of course I haven’t been able to get to it every day. I really want to get both books finishes this month, though.

Ideally, I’d read even more than that, though looking at my schedule of plans for the rest of the month, that’s over-optimistic. But with the coming of the fall season I’m feeling myself pulled towards some “seasonal” reading – I’d like to get to The Woman in White this year (it’s on my TBR Challenge list after all), and it’s feeling like the right time of year for The Farm (Louis Bromfield). Plus I’d love to sink into some quick-paced mysteries–I started the year with Agatha Christie and have been hankering for more who-done-its ever since. But these plans are probably all for October. But I always like to have goals – something to reach for, something to push me.

And you, any seasonal reading plans?

Holmes County Trail - View of trail and farm fields

Slipping into Summer

It’s the last day of a long weekend, Memorial Day here in the US, the unofficial but traditional start of summer. And it truly feels like a summer day: hot, muggy, oppressive sunshine (90F/32C, currently 40% humidity, which is actually an improvement from the 80% humidity earlier). But it’s perfect weather for lemonade and a book. Summer always seems to be when my reading (though maybe not my blogging–hoping to do better this year!) picks up. It’s simply too hot to do anything else.

Actually, the reading’s been going very well this year–I’ve started and finished twelve books already, and am partway through another six. (Very unusual for me to be reading so many at once…) The current/soon to be current book pile:

Summer book stack

True some of these are for/related to work. (But that dosen’t mean I’m not enjoying them anyways!) We’ve actually decided to try a work book club, so I read the intro and first chapter of Blink on Saturday. It’s fascinating so far, and I’m excited to read the rest.

But even before entering the hot, lazy summer months, it’s been reading season. I’ve been crazy busy this spring (last week, for instance, I didn’t get home from work until after 8:00 on Monday and had another really fun work-adjacent event Tuesday evening that had me home even later), but if there’s been a moment to squeeze in some reading, I have. Last winter (2017), I listened to the audiobook of 168 Hours: You Have More Time than You Think, and it really changed the way I think about time. I’ve been willing to add more to my schedule because I’ve seen that I can, and following author Laura Vanderkam’s blog and seeing how many books she’s managed to squeeze into her busy schedule provided the needed inspiration to kick-start my 2018 reading. I’m on pace for the best reading year since I started the blog. Now…to just catch up on the blog writing. Especially for the 2018 TBR challenge; I’ve read four books for it, but only blogged one so far. I guess it’s just easier to find a few minutes here and there for reading (five minutes at lunch, ten before bed), but I always feel like I need a chunk of time to get my thoughts down in a coherent form. Maybe something to work on?

I’ve been thinking about what I’m looking forward to this summer–since it’s not the hot weather–and besides reading, there’s always a few things I enjoy. Fireworks. Lemonade. Ice cream–so much ice cream! (There’s a wonderful little shop about a 7 minute walk from the office that we love to go to on a mid-afternoon for a treat.) Watching the fireflies dance around the yards after dark. Summer holidays. Bike rides. Rain storms. There’s also a major art event planned for the Cleveland-Akron area this summer that I am tentatively planning to visit (at least parts).

And all the reading.

I’ve decided not to do any summer-long events, though if any interesting single-month event crops up, I might opt in. But mostly I want to make it through the current reads, and my pre-order of Off the Clock (Laura Vanderkam) arrives tomorrow, plus I’d like to keep plugging away at my Harry Potter rereads (so much fun!) and my TBR list. I’m toying with the idea of adding some detective fiction, although that might make better autumn reading. Definitely saving The Woman in White for fall. But with all the non-fiction in the stack, I definitely need some more “fun” reads for summer. Maybe another fantasy…

Any exciting summer (or winter) reading/other plans for you?

Happy reading!

Mid Week’s Notes

March Crocus
Early spring Crocus

I can’t believe we’re over halfway through March already! (Although the cantankerous weather and stubborn bulbs prove it so.) This year has been so busy–every week I add “write blog post” to my to do list and more often than not it gets shifted to the next week. And I’ve been even worse about keeping up with reading other’s posts. Hopefully I can get back to that here soon…

Looking towards Cuyahoga River and downtown Kent on a snowy day
My view today

On the other hand, the reading’s been mostly good. There was the Olympic lull in February, which I expected, but otherwise, the reading pace has been faster than last year. I guess that’s what happens when I start the year with children’s literature and classic mysteries! But I’m also eager to start my title for the current Classics Club spin, Cold Comfort Farm. (Aside: surprisingly, no one pointed out that I only listed nineteen titles instead of the standard twenty! That’s what happens when I write a drive-by post on my lunch break…) I want to finish up a couple library books first, and then it will be back to the classics, as well as my year of Madeleine L’Engle.

Speaking of which, my mom and I went to see A Wrinkle in Time opening weekend and quite enjoyed it. It’s not entirely the same as the book–which I could tell from the trailer–but I felt they kept the characters true to those in L’Engle’s novel.

*Slight movie spoiler* I was a little disappointed that Aunt Beast (and her planet) were not included, though I’m guessing that’s mostly about movie length *end slight movie spoiler.*

It did seem to me, however, that the Camazotz scenes were not as effective as in the novel. This might be one of those instances where it’s difficult to convey ideas on screen as well as on page. It also occurred to me to wonder–while IT was visualized in a way I found very appropriate to the spirit of the novel, was this representation understandable to someone only coming to the story via the film? Maybe it doesn’t matter; after all, even as readers we all approach the same material differently. But all-in-all, I’m quite glad I saw this and the first half, especially, was magical.

Clay pot

I’ve also been continuing to enjoy an activity I first took up last fall–pottery classes. If you follow me on Twitter, you may have seen my Instagram posts of partially-finished ceramics. (Instagram is also a newer endeavor – I’m simplerpastimes there as well–no bookish posts as yet, but I’m sure some day…) After about 18 weeks of classes I’m finally starting to be able to make the clay do what I want instead of the other way around. Victory! (And such a good thing I’m doing this for fun and not a grade–that would have been way too much stress in my life!)

Add in work and work-related events, and that’s pretty much been life lately – busy, fun, trying not to get over-committed (a fine line some days). If only I could figure out how to be two places at once, I’d be all set!

Happy reading!

In Praise of Christmas

Christmas 2017 - Garland on the Bridge

All hail to the days that merit more praise
Than all the rest of the year,
And welcome the nights that double delights
As well for the poor as the peer!
Good fortune attend each merry man’s friend
That doth but the best that he may,
Forgetting old wrongs with carols and songs
To drive the cold winter away.

Tis ill for a mind to anger inclined
To think of small injuries now,
If wrath be to seek, do not lend her your cheek
Nor let her inhabit thy brow.
Cross out of thy books malevolent looks,
Both beauty and youth’s decay,
And wholly consort with mirth and sport
To drive the cold winter away.

This time of the year is spent in good cheer
And neighbours together do meet,
To sit by the fire, with friendly desire,
Each other in love to greet.
Old grudges forgot are put in the pot,
All sorrows aside they lay,
The old and the young doth carol this song,
To drive the cold winter away.

When Christmas’s tide comes in a like a bride,
With holly and ivy clad,
Twelve days in the year much mirth and good cheer
In every household is had.
The country guise is then to devise
Some gambols of Christmas play,
Whereat the young men do the best that they can
To drive the cold winter away

Source: Traditional, as performed by Loreena McKennitt (To Drive the Cold Winter Away, 1987)


Wishing a very Merry Christmas to you and yours! ~ Amanda