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This week has been a little intense (some health things, some practical things, some Texas-summer-is-the-worst things), but I’m looking forward to the next couple of days. Maybe you want to enjoy a few of these things, too?

  • Playlist for The Magicians – Any time I really love a show or a book, I want a playlist that reminds me of it. The Magicians has a great soundtrack. I went to make one and found that there are already so many out there. This is a nice list to start with but this is definitely my dancing/reading/vegging vibe for tonight.
  • Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Readers’ Weekend – Minimal structure, maximum reading. Basically, the perfect weekend.
  • Suits Season 1 – I am rewatching this adorable show, starting this weekend. Yay!
  • Reconciling in Christ – our group is meeting on Sunday, and I’m glad my church is pursuing being more intentional about inclusion. This learning structure is not as…assertive…as I tend to be, but it’s a start.
  • Nectarines – I had a nectarine/cherry upside down cake at lunch and I forget every year how much I love nectarines but I think I’ll need some tomorrow. Maybe also apricots….

Hope you have a nice weekend as well!

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Beautiful view on a farm outing with friends

I look forward to Joy the Baker’s summer bucket list every year. It’s typically a mix of places to go and things to learn and/or make, and it’s inspiring. Because summer tends to be a busier time for me, I am expanding my timeframe into fall (and really – the rest of the year). So this is my remainder-of-2021 bucket list. Doesn’t quite have the same ring but…oh, well.

  1. Get some ducks in order – Some of my goals are just reminders to get/keep it together enough to be healthy or at least not completely derail any progress I’ve made in various areas. To that end:
    – Pay off personal loan (last payment due in September!)
    – Carve out time to get back into Pilates practice
    – Make eye exam and yearly physical appointments
    – Write, edit, and submit a short story every month
  2. Take a trip with friends – Okay, so I’ve already done this one. We went to Colorado for a few days in June, and it was magnificent.
  3. Get a new (to me) car – Watson is showing signs of unreliability, and I want to trade her in before her upkeep starts costing more than a car payment would. My first car was a hatchback, and I’ve wanted another one ever since, so I’m looking at gently used options in the area along the lines of a VW Golf or Kia Soul.
  4. Take an overnight bookshop trip – I’ve been musing about going to Magic City Books in Tulsa for a while, but I think my next long-distance bookstore venture is going to be to Nowhere Bookshop in San Antonio. They’re opening for real to the public on Monday, and I think a leisurely drive down there in October would be a great way to break in a new ride.
  5. Choose a new planner – I do love my Simplified Planner, but the siren song of Papier’s daily planner beckons me. I have had separate goal and meal planning calendars for the longest time, and the idea of having everything in one book is so appealing. Also…there are so many cover designs to choose from. *salivates*
Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with this cover…

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Mountain dragon from Colorado says hello

A couple of things I’m into these days…

While The Audacity is closed for essay submissions the rest of the year, Roxane Gay Books is now open for manuscript submissions. I love love love this and if you have a manuscript that you are waiting to submit because you haven’t quite achieved the *insert example of the hyper-capitalistic hellscape that is a lot of the publishing industry here* maybe this is an appealing option?

This meta monologue from Penny pretty much sums up my love of The Magicians (the show – I’ve yet to start the book but expect to love it, too):

“All I’m saying is you think you’ve seen stories like this before, so you can guess what’s going to happen. Who’s important and who isn’t. But that’s because you are trapped in your POV. You have a classic case of White Male Protagonist, Derek, and a Librarian simply can’t have that. But that’s why these books are so important. They’re such a gift. They can allow you to see other points of view. And once you start seeing that, you’ll find that the story doesn’t end the way you think, and the most important characters aren’t who you expect.”

“When you file people away as sidekicks, you don’t realize their importance to the story, and this story belongs to a lot more people than you think. Where to shelve a book – it’s not a little thing. You’re telling the world what to value, who to value.”

I’m excited to be working on some short stories for submission in a new local publication. More to come on this soon.

I hope you’re having a good weekend so far!

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I read Laundry Love by Patric Richardson and Karin Miller in almost one sitting. It is delightful. I knew I would love it because I love doing laundry. I find it soothing and comforting, and it was wonderful reading the thoughts of someone who clearly enjoys it just as much as I do.

Of course the book is full of great tips, but it also contains quite a bit of insight on the textile and fashion industries. The way it places this simple, personal chore into the larger context of environmental and labor ethics is right up my alley. Yes to preferring natural fabrics over synthetic ones because they breathe better, are better for the environment and won’t melt before your very eyes if you accidentally spill nail polish remover on them (not that I’m bitter, acetate). (I’m definitely still a little bitter.) Yes to saying no to fast fashion whenever possible (which is almost always, even on a tight budget). Yes to washing and pressing that wool blazer at home because you know how to do it right. Yes to extravagant musings about the laundry room of my dreams (I have drawn floor plans) right alongside a list of the perks of the laundromat. There are even family recipes at the end because it would just be unfair to mention the downside of favorite foods (i.e., staining) without also sharing how delicious and thus completely worth the mess they are. If I were to write a book about this favorite household task of mine, it would look a lot like this.

Of course, I have comments.

Longevity

One of the benefits the authors listed of taking proper care of your clothing is that it lasts longer. At one point it was mentioned that if you care for it well, a garment should endure 50 wash/dry cycles. I realize they were likely making a conservative estimate, but since I’m not the writers and am thus not at risk of losing book sales by making extravagant claims, I’ll go ahead and do so. If you follow the advice in this book on not only caring for your clothes but also choosing pieces that are made to last to begin with, you should get way more wash/dry cycles out of them and keep the clothes you love for as long as they fit.

For example, I still have and frequently wear a skirt I bought at a thrift store in my mid-twenties. Aside from the occasional seam reinforcement or elastic replacement, it is still in great shape two decades and hundreds of washes later. Buying well-made clothing doesn’t have to be expensive. I doubt I spent more than $5 on that skirt, and it’s lasted forever. It’s just a matter of learning how to spot good quality.

Fabric Softener

I typically add a little bit of vinegar (i.e., 1/8-1/4 cup) to each rinse cycle, and that sufficiently softens clothes, towels, linens, etc. It even reduces static a little, as does using wool, silicone, and/or aluminum foil balls in the dryer, or air drying my clothes. But if I want to completely eliminate static (and I absolutely do), nothing works like fabric softener.

I know it’s bad for the environment. I know it’s bad (yes, even the free and clear kind) for humans.

I KNOW.

I also know that it’s the only thing that saves me from thousands of tiny electrocutions every time I roll over in my peppermint-scented lightning sheets at night. It’s the only thing that keeps me from flashing my ass to the world when my skirt rides up on the walk from my car to the office (PSA: I have no qualms about showing some skin. I just want it to be my choice, not my clothing’s).

I would be delighted to find a tip or trick that does what fabric softener does. I would love to eliminate it from my laundry routine. But to date, every tip I’ve tried has failed me (have a tip? Feel free to share. Bet I’ve tried it, though.). Until there is a real solution that actually works, I will continue to use fabric softener sparingly.

Multiple Wearings

The tips for refreshing fabrics so that you can wear them multiple times between washes? Great advice. Unless you live in Texas in the summer. Then you get a pass. I mean, if I only wear a sundress to go to the farmers’ market and then come right home, I will give it a vodka spritz and air it out before hanging it back in the closet to wear again. But if my outfit goes through a whole day in the Texas heat of walking a couple of blocks from my car to the office, walking a few blocks to and from lunch, walking back to my car in the late afternoon, and then running whatever errands or attending whatever meeting I have that evening, I’m going to give it a proper wash before I wear it again. It’s earned it.

Texas folk, you don’t have to be a hero. Please be advised that it’s perfectly okay not to walk around in clothes that are holding a collective three days of the August-in-Texas meat sweats that have accrued since the last time you washed them. There’s not enough vodka (for spritzing or otherwise) in the world to combat that.

To conclude, I really love this book. I look forward to referencing it for advice and entertainment in the years to come.

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July TBR

I was fortunate to spend a few days last week basking in the cool air of Colorado. A brief reprieve from the intense Texas heat with people I adore. This week, I was back in it (although it’s been rainy and a little bit cooler – a tiny mercy) and back at work. The choices below are defintely leaning toward my typical summer reads (adventure, mystery, fun, etc.) this month.

Book Clubs

Books About Joy

This month’s joy selections focus on finding joy in ordinary life (even daily, seemingly dull things). I need this reminder during the summer when my automatic modus operandi is just to get through it.

Library Reads

These are the main books I want to finish and return to the library this month, although I suspect there will be more by the time the end of the month rolls around. I’ve been on a reading frenzy lately!

What are you reading this month?

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Once again, I have a library problem. Or I’m a problem to the library. At any rate…I also have a solution.

So I was doing really well, only checking out a sensible number of books at a time that I could reasonably expect to finish before they were due back at the library. Just a little thing like having to schedule a time during their limited hours to pick them up was all it took to curtail my habit of going on a reservation spree and taking out more books than I could possibly hope to finish that quickly. But now that the library is back to normal hours and operations, and I can just pop by and pick up everything I’ve put aside at my convenience, I’ve reverted back to old practices. I wish I could tell you that the stack above represents even a fourth of the books I have checked out, but…no.

This month, I’m weaning myself off again. I’m never at a loss for something to read. I have four apps with books and audiobooks I can read from my phone. I also have hundreds of books in my personal collection at home. So there’s no reason I need to hold on to the library’s copies that someone else could be enjoying. I’m going to read my books for the clubs I’m in and my joy selections for the month, but other than that? Working on this stack of library books so I can get them back where they belong.

[One could argue that I could just return the books without reading them and check them out later when I know I have time for them, but one would receive a derisive scoff as a reward for this helpful suggestion which would then be completely ignored.]

Book Clubs

Joy Books

We’re going a little meta this month. These joy books actually deal with joy as a subject.

Library Books

These make it back to the library by the end of the month.

Pride Month!

Of course, I will also be reflecting on my favorite books written by LGBTQIA+ authors and/or starring LGBTQIA+ characters in my local library’s monthly book discussion. If you want to explore this genre, some of my favorites can be found on these lists.

What’s on your TBR list for June?

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This was my first week back in the office after working from home since last August. There was quite a bit of adjustment, but nothing I didn’t expect. At least there were no surprises?

I expected that my focus would be down with other people around, and that has been somewhat true but it’s not been as bad as I thought it would be. I expected I would not like getting up even earlier in order to commute. Accurate. Commuting is a ridiculous use of time. Consoling myself by listening to Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris on audio during the daily drives.

Five things I have enjoyed about coming back to campus:

  1. Automatic daily walk. Depending on how far away I have to park from the building (I’m not buying a permit for three and a half months because 1) no and 2) stubborn), just by getting from my car to the building and back to my car I am automatically getting in an extra 10-15 minutes of walking a day.
  2. Random free snacks. In related news, I have a new donut place near my house I need to visit some weekend.
  3. Seeing coworkers face to face has been nice.
  4. Not hearing every. step. my. upstairs. neighbor. takes. all. day. Last night it was as loud as usual, and I didn’t even care because my psyche had not been beaten down all day long by unnecessary stomping noises. Note to self: next time I work from home, make sure the job pays well enough that I can live in a building with no one else above me.
  5. Since our phone system is now through MS Teams, I have a headset. This is the reason my focus has been better. When I’m not doing anything in particular, I can still hear through them but if it’s loud in the office when I’m trying to do something, I just play some soothing music to drown it out.

Overall, not too bad a week! Have a good weekend!

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May TBR

This month’s reading plan includes a few that I didn’t finish from last month that I’m meandering my way through, but the new reads list is shorter this time. It’s starting to feel like summer again here, and my summer reading usually veers off the intended path. I want to keep up with book club selections and my joy project while still keeping some space for whatever delights intrigue me.

Two such delights are already on my radar:

  • How To Eat by Nigella Lawson – The one that started it all. I love how Nigella Lawson writes about food. I can’t believe I’ve never read her first book before.
  • Hanged by a Thread by ACF Bookens – The third in this series by one of my favorite cozy mystery authors. I’ve already pre-ordered my ebook for mid-month.

I have five book club selections for the month. My group that meets the first Tuesday of the month is reading something I’ve already read for another book club, and I liked it but I am unlikely to read it again in the next few days. I think I remember enough of The Bookwoman of Troublesome Creek to discuss it over wine. The others include:

The main joy project selection this month is Joyful Militancy by Nick Montgomery and Carla Bergman (with an intro by Hari Alluri, whose poetry I really like). Resistance often seems so heavy, so I’m interested in the ideas of these experienced activists who urge readers to find joy, friendship, curiosity and other wonders in the work. And, because art and activism often go hand in hand, I’m continuing to work through Twyla Tharp’s The Creative Habit and The Collaborative Habit.

What are you reading this month?

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April TBR

April is one of my favorite reading months because it’s National Poetry Month. It’s also National Jazz Appreciation Month, and while the Denton Arts & Jazz Festival is postponed until the fall this year, I am going to be reading through some old standards via keyboard. So we’re taking liberties with what goes on the “reading” list this month.

Joy Selections:

Art in its various forms is a big part of my life, and I’m exploring the joy in that this month.

Book Club Selections:

This list will seem long. No, I haven’t joined four more book clubs. It’s just because Follow the Reader is doing choose-your-own-adventure poetry this month, and my perpetual adventure is that, when left to my own devices, I can’t pick just one collection.

There may be other things that I read this month, but these are my main foci. What are you reading these days?

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March TBR

Most of this month’s selections

I’m quite excited about this month’s reading – so much so that I have already started every book on the following list. Some of them I have finished, with some I’m a few chapters in, and others I’ve just read the first few pages. So that’s the kind of reading month it’s going to be – very little structure, picking up whatever I am most intrigued with at the moment. Rampant, abundance anarchy.

Which is pretty appropriate for a month where my book with joy in the title (and the supplemental I have chosen to accompany it – not sure when I decided to do that but we’re going with it) is about the joy of reading children’s literature as an adult. This concept has my cosign already, as I am experiencing the delight of tucking into the Percy Jackson series that my friend Maggie is reading her son.

Here are the books I have started for the month of March:

Joy books:
* Wild Things: The Joy of Reading Children’s Literature as an Adult by Bruce Handy
* Why I Read: the Serious Pleasure of Books by Wendy Lesser

Book club selections:
* Brother & Sister by Diane Keaton
* The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd
* Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close by Aminatou Sow and Anne Friedman
* Professional Troublemaker by Luvvie Ajayi Jones
* The Removed by Brandon Hobson

New books by friends/library haul/etc.:
* Crossed by Death by ACF Bookens
* The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett
* Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas
* When No One Is Watching by Alyssa Cole
* Mistress of Spices by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

I’ll let you know which ones I enjoy the most!

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