Crooked Spur by Jack Hazard

Everyday, I walk down the same shelves at work numerous times.  I glance at the books as I go by.  Some are familiar because I know them and some are familiar because I see them everyday but once in a while I will spot something that I am sure I’ve never seen before.  And when you see something that you’ve never noticed before, you start seeing it every time you walk by it.  That was Crooked Spur for me.  When I looked it up online, I could only find a used copy of it on Amazon and NOTHING on Goodreads.

I had to read it.

You may be surprised to learn that I like a western once in a while.  I’m not sure why.  I guess that, for the most part, I like everything once in a while.

This was the story of Brad who returns home after three years of running cattle to make amends with his father.  His father owned a local store and wanted Brand to take over for him but Brad had no interest in settling down.  They fought but he’s still surprised to discover upon his return that his father has sold the business and gone on to Denver.  Brad’s father was very town-proud and not the kind of man who had much interest in the city.  When Brad meets with the man who purchased the business, Lafe Gorman, Gorman tells him that he paid more than the business was worth, enough that his father couldn’t have said no.  But then Brad ends up with a gun pointed at him and he’s smart enough to know something is awry.

I don’t have a lot of experience, but this was kind of an odd western in my opinion.  It kind of meandered around.  It was more of a mystery than anything and more than once it made me think of Agatha Christie.  It was fine.  It read fast and I enjoyed it.  Still, I have no idea why it was called Crooked Spur.  You’ll have to hunt down that used copy and let me know.

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Tally Monday

Checked Out

  1. Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller

Bought

  1. Material Girl, Mystical World by Ruby Warrington
  2. More Hours in My Day by Emilie Barnes

Read

  1. “Guerrilla Marketing” by Sanjay Agnihatri
  2. Crooked Spur by Jack Hazard
  3. “Our New Lives” by Helen Coats

Reading Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo,   The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by James Knowles, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, Dot Journaling by Rachel Wilkerson Miller, The Best Loved Poems of the American People, Chicken Soup for the SoulEmpowered Mama by Lisa Druxman, and Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

When I started reading a crazy amount of books at the same time back in January, I felt pretty okay about it.  I had a lot going on book-wise but it all made sense to me.  Everything was compartmentalized.  I read fiction in book form, listened to series on audio, made a point to read 10 pages of nonfiction and one poem each day, kept a book going on my Kindle to read in bed, and tried to knock out a graphic novel each week.  I had my daily reading in the morning, too.  It worked.  I made a little leeway on a lot of things but my numbers were where I wanted them and sometimes I just ended up finished 3 or 4 books within a day or two because that’s just how it worked.

Then I got a little manic.

Then my whole life swung out of control.

And suddenly there was a way to make myself feel better that was usually FREE or VERY CHEAP.

Books.  Books, you guys.

And then books led to other books and then an article I read led to another book and then, finding myself incapable of writing because of all the added personal stress and pressure on my life, I invested some studying into bullet journaling and that let to a book and then I listened to a podcast that reviewed a book and, LOOK!  THAT ONE IS CHECKED IN AND I CAN JUST GRAB IT THIS MORNING. AND WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE BOOKS I DIDN’T CHECK OUT BECAUSE I WAS GOING ON MATERNITY LEAVE? ISN’T THAT LIST SOMEWHERE?????

Last week I was flipping through my planner at work and I came across my goals for the year.

2018:
The Year of Less!

1. lose 26 lbs
2. organize
3. Spend more time with the people I love.
4. Manage the monies!
5. Cultivate joy!

Real talk: I already forgot about all of that.

And so, I am going about the task of making my life easier again.  I am trying to pare down and live a life of Less.  Because, as we all know, sometimes LESS is actually MORE.  Today my task is to make a list of things that I want in my life and, honestly, I don’t think that I want more than what I have.  I can’t think of a thing I want that I don’t already have, except to be able to stay home and that isn’t something I have much control over at present.  I am lucky.  I am lucky but I am driving myself mad.  And the books keep piling up.

Let’s get back on track.

Tally Monday- March 19, 2018

Checked Out

  1. Basic Witches by Jaya Sexena and Jess Zimmerman
  2. The Devil’s Wind by Richard Rayner
  3. The Ghost of Windy Hill by Clyde Bulla
  4. Bras and Broomsticks by Sarah Mlynowski

Bought

None!

Read

  1. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  2. “Pups” by Kate Folk
  3. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong

Reading: “Guerrilla Marketing” by Sanjay Agnihotri, The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by James Knowles, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, The Best Loved Poems of the American PeopleChicken Soup for the SoulThe Empowered Mama by Lisa Durxman, Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

Excuse my language but the past week has been a bit of a clusterfuck.  It’s not my business to share what has been going on but I will say that it’s been difficult.  We have been mired with worry and we have been dealing with the added stress from that as well as finding people to watch LD because my in-laws have been unable to as well as both of us having really busy times at work.  The thing is that when you take the stress of everyday life, it’s enough.  Then you add a big stress on top of that and you think, “I can handle this.”  Then you add a second big stress on top of that and you think, “Man, I don’t know if I can handle this.”  Then you add another stress and the need to be the strong, cheerful, get-shit-done person and then it’s like, “Well, fuck.  Hand me the whiskey.”

Poor decisions have been made.  Coping mechanisms have not been the best.

Because we all know what the best coping mechanism is for me, right?  If I am really so stressed out, I need to put the LD to bed, make myself a cup of tea, and go sit in a quiet room with a book, either in my comfy chair in my office or on my comfy bed in my bedroom.  That’s what I NEED to be doing.  Or, you know, if I do want to watch TV because I am feeling brain dead, maybe I should, like, actually watch TV and color or something instead of mindlessly scrolling.

In the past week there has been mindless scrolling, mindless drinking, mindless smoking, and mindless eating aplenty.  I have gone easy on myself because I recognize that life is really hard right now and I have to be my own advocate.  But I know that I am not actually being my own advocate.  I am just giving myself crutches and saying, “It’ll be fine!” instead of doing the physical therapy that will make it fine.

I was so stressed out on Saturday that I COULDN’T NAP!  Seriously!  I laid in bed with LD and he had a great nap while I worried about people I care about and about my cholesterol test and about how I was going to budget for a few weeks and about who was going to watch LD and about how unreliable I’ve been at work and so on and so on.

Then yesterday I did something that I hadn’t done in forever.  I read.  I read all damn day.  I read a chapter between every chore.  I read until I couldn’t read anymore.  And it was great and it’s launched me into this week with a new lease on life.

So, you guys, I am filling my cup with joy this week.  I am filling it with joy despite the stress and the worry.  GO FILL YOUR CUP!  And maybe part of filling it is books!

Always be reading, my friends!

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders

When I first started seeing the summaries of this book, I thought to myself, “That is absolutely a book that I do not need to read.”  Right?  I mean, it’s not an era I’m into and I was put off by the “experimental” aspects of it, and also I didn’t want to read a 350 page book about death.  Then I was listening to Literary Disco and someone said that it reminded them of Spoon River Anthology, which is one of my favorite books of all time, and I had to read it.

I am so glad that I did.

This was nothing like what I expected.  I imagined that it was going to be a difficult read because of the style and that I was going to be confused and that it was probably going to give me panic attacks.  Instead, I flew through this book, managing to read 80 pages in one day which I haven’t done since the newborn became an infant.  I enjoyed reading this book so much that I actually dreamed about reading it in one sitting, like actual night time dreamed.

Somehow Saunders takes all of these dead people and makes each and every one distinct.  It wasn’t long before I didn’t really need to reference who was talking most of the time.  The format just kind of disappeared for me.  Also, I love it when a book builds so well that you just accept what the author is doing.  I never questioned this world that Saunders built because he did it so masterfully.

This is the story of the night of Willie Lincoln’s funeral, when Abraham visits the body twice at the cemetery.  It is told by the spirits residing there, some who have decided to stay because they refuse to believe that they are dead and one who happens to know for a fact that he is dead but is still refusing to go.  These spirits tell about their lives, stories that they have been telling themselves and anyone who will listen over and over again.  When Willie joins them, they see the danger in someone so young staying and begin the job of convincing him to go.

This book was amazing.  I really did love it.  It was funny at times and it was heartbreaking at times.  It was hard to put down and I have a feeling that I will be thinking about it for a long time.

Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven

This was the kind of book that I wish I could carry around with me all of the time.  It was small and short and to the point but solid.

Originally a graduation speech, Make Your Bed is 10 simple lessons to change the world.  The original speech is included at the back of the book but the 10 lessons are told in short chapters, most of them relating to McRaven’s Navy Seal training.  I have never had much interest in the services but even I found the stories inspiring, quaint, amusing, and sometimes touching.

I’ve been a believer in bed making for a few years now, since reading Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project.  To me this is just basic advice and it is indicative of what you will find here.  Nothing new, but a good reinforcement that could easily be read in a day.

Tally Monday- March 12, 2018

Checked Out

  1. Wake Up! by Chris Bariz-Brown

Bought

  1. Breathe, Mama, Breathe by Shonda Maralis
  2. 365 Devotionals to Embrace What Matters Most by John Michalak
  3. The Art of Living by Epictetus and Sharon Lebell

Read

  1. United We Spy by Ally Carter
  2. Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven

Reading Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan, The Legends of King Arthur and His Knights by James Knowles, The Best Loved Poems of the American PeopleChicken Soup for the SoulSimple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach, and Empowered Mama by Liza Druxman

I think that maybe things feel a little more under control with my reading this week.  At least with my reading, and that counts for something.

For many years, I aimed to read 50 pages per day.  I’m not sure when it started, probably when I was working on my English degree.  I do recall taking three literature classes in one semester and thinking that if I just stuck to the 50 page rule and started a little before the term I would be fine.  Actually, it did end up working out and I even read for fun while I was in college.  I firmly believe that all things are possible if you just keep chomping away at it.

Last week, I added reading to my daily to-do list with the idea that I would (1)make it a priority  and (2)read 50 pages per day, chomping away at my TBR stack.  It IS a stack again, and I hate it but the only thing I can do is keep chomping away at it because most of it is stuff that I have to read for work.  Okay, half of it is stuff that I have to read for work.

At present, I am working three stacks: “books,” filler, and nonfiction.  My “books” stack contains mostly fiction, including the battle books and a couple spur of the moment checkouts and the stuff I pulled to get back on my original plan for the year.  The filler stack is comprised of short stories, Archie digests, and Little Black Classics that I read in between books.  Finally, the nonfiction stack is my planned nonfiction reading and is, by far, the shortest.

I did not meet my goal of 50 pages every day last week but that doesn’t mean that I failed.  I read more last week than I have read in a long time.  I had been feeling like I never get around to reading and there is never time for it.  I would lay down at night and think, “Well, another day when I didn’t read a damn word.”  Just aiming for the moon, I landed among the stars.  I read every day.  And the act of making reading a priority pulled me out of my stuporfunk.  (Stupor of scrolling and drooling, funk of frustration and defeat.)  It encouraged me to stick to the other reading, too.  I buckled down on my nighttime reading, making a point to read 1% of my ebook before I went to sleep.  (The sleeping aids kick in by then and that’s about all I can handle.)  This morning I looked at my poetry book and thought, “Why is it taking me days to read one poem when I should be reading one poem/day?”

I am going through something right now, looking around at my life and thinking about how I want to fill me time.  I’m making adjustments.  I am making my housework fit the time I allow it and I am allowing it less time.  I am making an effort to make things easier.  I am trying, as always, to get my shit together and find joy and be me.  So, I am reading.

And may you be reading too!

Tally Monday- March 5, 2018

Checked Out

None!

Bought

  1. Under the Tuscan Sun
  2. Bella Tuscany
  3. Every Day in Tuscany
  4. In Tuscany all by Frances Meyes
  5. The Naked Witch by Fiona Horn

Read

  1. “The Crazies” by Maud Streep
  2. A Room of One’s Own by Virginia Woolf
  3. Marbles by Ellen Forney
  4. “Bulletin Board Dragon” by Lilly Hunt

Reading: Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders, United We Spy by Ally Carter, The legends of King Arthur and His Knights by James Knowles, Make Your Bed by William H. McRaven, The Best loved Poems of the American PeopleSimple Wicca by Michele Morgan, Chicken Soup for the SoulSimple AbundanceThe Empowered Mama

As you probably know, I don’t really sleep well anymore.  I have been trying to figure it out and pinpoint where it started and all of that but the truth is that I’m generally too tired to put much effort into it.  I’m coming up on four weeks of issues, with only two full night’s sleep in the run.  usually when I can’t sleep, I tend to lay there very stubbornly, with my eyes held closed in defiance and determination.  “I will sleep,” I tell myself through gritted teeth.

But last week was my tipping point and I decided that it was time to make some changes.  First, I am back on the melatonin.  Second,  when I have a hard time getting back to sleep in the middle of the night, I’ve been trying to make a point to read.

Actually, I made a point to read in general last week.  I spent a lot less time on social media and playing my cell phone game.  I didn’t spend tons of time picking up the house.  One night Hubby stretched out on the couch to watch TV and I didn’t ask him to make room for me.  I just grabbed up my book and a cup of tea and made myself comfortable on my bed.

So, I’ve been making a point to make a point to read but I also can’t read as well because I’m tired.  Right now the good seems to be winning over the bad.  I mean, I actually finished two book last week.  Maybe I’ll get more read this week.  I am not far into Lincoln in the Bardo but I like it so far.  Sometimes, though, I just feel like my reading bone is broken.

Oh well.  It will get better and easier soon, she said every week.  Always be reading, my friends.