On Dropping the Ball

Friday, November 20, 2015

Yes, this is one of THOSE posts. The ones where a blogger talks about struggling with priorities and trying to find balance. Sorry in advance. 

I started this blog six years ago and this is the 1,458th post. In that time I've reviewed books, participated in more than a dozen readalongs and nine Dewey Readathons, and most importantly made friends with so many other amazing bloggers. 

In May, the Huz and I found out we were expecting our first little one. Since then life has felt like a whirlwind of fatigue, excitement, and a million other things. In addition to preparing things like the nursery, we've been attending birthing classes, getting life insurance, creating wills, and researching all of the things you're supposed to know before caring for another human being. 

The Huz has switched jobs and is now working two different ones full time. I'm working full time and my office has gone from a staff of 14 to 8 in the span of one year. Needless to say things have been a bit crazy this year. While I've still been reading a lot, I have barely been reviewing. I have been keeping up with my Classics Club duties, but even that has been a struggle.

So I've decided to give myself a bit of a break. I've never taken a break from this blog and I never really planned to. But I know that right now I have so much stuff hanging over my head and I feel like I'm constantly trying to find a way to get through it all. This is new to me. I've never felt like this before and I'm finally realizing that it's ok to put a couple things on hold for a little while instead of constantly feeling like I'm dropping the ball. 

Life doesn't stop when you get pregnant or have a kiddo, but it certainly does get a bit more complicated. I hope that as I find my new balance I'll be able to be back at blogging regularly in the not too distant future. Until then, I hope you all will understand my sporadic posting. Thanks to all of you!

Photo property of Avid Reader's Musings

Wordless Wednesday: Iowa

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rolling Hills in Iowa 
Photo by me.

Grand Forks

Monday, November 16, 2015

Grand Forks 
A History of American Dining in 100 Reviews 
by Marilyn Hagerty
With a forward by Anthony Bourdain

With more than 100 different reviews of restaurants in North Dakota, this sounds like a snooze, but it's really a beautiful representation of how small towns have changed over the years. When she talks about blue plate specials, and Norwegian dishes, there's a wonderful love of community in her writing. 

I originally picked this one up as a nonfiction read for North Dakota for my Reading the States project, and I'm glad I did. Since my goal with the project is to get a better feel for each state, I think this book does just that. Hagerty paints a picture of this area of the country through their stomachs.

Yes, they are reviews of restaurants you will probably never go to. That's not really what the book is about, it's a chronicle of how small-town America and the food they eat has changed over the years. Once upon a time a new Arby's opening in town was big news and sushi was a foreign concept that most Midwesterners were wary of. You can also see how the styles of food are reflected in the area, there’s lots of Norwegian food because were North Dakota. I love that there's pieces of the town’s history sprinkled throughout the reviews as well.  There was a huge flood in 1997 that caused many of Grand Fork’s restaurants to close. A new restaurant that opened after the tragedy included a note on its menus that said, “Time will pass, our city will heal, but the strength encourage of its residents will never be forgotten.”

BOTTOM LINE: I wouldn’t recommend this unless you really want a taste of small town American restaurants. It absolutely provides that, but it’s also exactly what it sounds like, a collection of reviews of restaurants in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Wordless Wednesday: Vonnegut Mural

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

My favorite mural in Indianapolis, Kurt Vonnegut. 
Wordless Wednesday 
Photo by me.

Moonwalking with Einstein

Monday, November 9, 2015

Moonwalking with Einstein
The Art and Science of Remembering Everything
by Joshua Foer

Memory is an elusive concept. It seems like something that comes and goes with age, and it is often assumed that some people have a better one than others. In reality it’s an art, an ability that you can exercise and improve just like anything else. The first half of the book focuses much more on the history of memorization and its benefits. The second half takes a drastic shift as the author himself gets pulled into the world of memory competitions. He decides to train and compete and he brings the reader along for the ride as he learns the tricks of the trade.

The concept of memory palaces was one I've heard of before but it was interesting to hear it described in more detail. To remember a long list you visualize each item in a specific location in a specific home. For example, if you have a grocery list you can place that in your childhood home. Say a jar of mayonnaise goes at the end of the driveway, a carton of eggs goes at the front door, etc. Then you “walk” through the house in your mind you see each of the items you visualized in the specific spot.

I never realized how critical memory was before the printing presses existed. People who had access to books could only refer back to what they’d memorized. Books were rare, as was the ability to read. Sharing stories through oral tradition was much more common that reading actual books.

“Creating new memories stretches out psychological time and lengthens our perception of our lives.”

There’s one section where Foer discusses the danger of routine making our lives literally seem shorter. When we are constantly creating new memories our life becomes more memorable. Going on a big trip, learning something new, having dinner with friends, each of those things becomes a specific moment in time that we remember. Whereas going home from work, watching TV every night and eating almost the same thing makes a whole week blend together. I loved this section because I try to constantly do new things in my life. I travel often, try new restaurants, see plays and visit museum exhibits, even being a tourist in my own city and spending time with friends fits in this category. To me, it seems like time still goes by quickly, but it’s packed to the brim! I can think of what happened last week in specific memories instead of seeing it blur together. I thought it was fascinating that actual studies have been done on this. And the conclusion was, you can live the healthiest life in the world, but if it’s only full of repetitive routines than it will still seem short.

BOTTOM LINE: I was fascinated by the whole book. Foer’s writing style is perfectly suited to make nonfiction content feel like a page-turner. I look forward to whatever he writes next.

“Monotony collapses time, novelty unfolds it.”

“Of all the things one could be obsessive about collecting, memories of one’s own life don’t seem like the most unreasonable. There’s something even strangely rational about it.

Side note: I will say it was a bit ironic to read this one while having “pregnancy brain”. At no point in my life have I had a harder time remembering small things!

Harry Potter Bar - The Lockhart

Friday, November 6, 2015

 The Huz and I had a quick trip to Canada in September and spent one night in Toronto before heading to Prince Edward Island. While there we stopped in a new bar called The Lockhart that had just opened. We heard that it was a Harry Potter bar and I just had to check it out.
 It was a tiny hipster bar, but I loved the Harry Potter references. In addition to the name of the place, there are drinks named after HP characters. I took a couple pictures of the menu just for fun. I love that in addition to the HP drinks, there's a Captain Picard!
There were also a few stags in the bar and a neon sign (see top pictured) that says "All was well." So glad we stopped in!

Photos by me.

Wordless Wednesday: Little Free Libraries

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I love visiting new places and seeing 
Little Free Libraries everywhere. 
All three of these were in different
spots around Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island.
Wordless Wednesday 
Photo by me.