When those of us in Texas start hiding indoors.

Welcome to another month of intense shared emotional experiences! I, for one, have alternated between sadness, anger, disappointment, hope, and a touch of determination. I’ve been reminded lately of the importance of taking it one day at a time, keeping my eyes on Jesus, listening to others, and doing my best. And in the meantime...we keep reading…

What I’m reading…

A Journal of the Plague Year, by Daniel Defoe came across my reading list as a review book (even though it’s not new by any stretch of the imagination), and it turned out to be a lot more fascinating than I expected. It’s an adaptation of a journal written about the Bubonic Plague in London in 1665 (incidentally, the year before the Great Fire of London. Not a great couple of years for London). I think I would have enjoyed this slice-of-life book regardless, especially since it’s about a historical event I’m not super familiar with, but the timing is kind of crazy. I would be reading about quarantining measures, and how some people kept trying to work instead of hunkering down because otherwise they would starve, and I’d look at the book and think...was this a trick? Was this written last month? Anyway, if you like history and don’t mind 16th century writing style and a wee bit of repetition (that’s what skimming is for!) It’s definitely an interesting read. 

At first, I wasn’t sure I was going to like Kitchens of the Great Midwest by J. Ryan Stradal. The multiple shifts in perspective was a little bit jarring, and there’s some real heart wrenching stuff that happens at the beginning of the novel. But it sucked me in and ultimately, I ended up loving it. The narrative meanders and weaves its way among lots of different characters, all connected in some way to food, and to endearingly weird teenager-turned-chef prodigy Eva Thorvald. It’s sad, funny, heartbreaking, hopeful, sarcastic, and surprising. The characterization was so well done, especially considering how little relative page time each character got, and the setting was vivid and basically another character. As a Midwestern girl myself, I particularly appreciated that.

Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay is a story about two estranged sisters, one of whom is a successful chef who is trying to rediscover her joy and passion for cooking, the other a successful businesswoman, wife, and mom who is fighting cancer. There’s a sweet love story as well, but the main plot revolves around the two sisters and their attempt to rebuild their relationship. It was a quick read, but had surprising depth.

Currently on my reading list is the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and another J. Ryan Stradal book, Lager Queen of Minnesota.

What I’m watching...

Has anyone else watched The English Game yet? It’s a Netflix series by the creator of Downton Abbey about the origins of modern soccer (or, football, to get technical). It focuses on the emergence of working class teams, the growth of the game, and the much-resisted (among the upper classes) move toward recruiting and paying players. It’s only six episodes, but it packs so much into those episodes! There were plot points I anticipated, and quite a few that surprised me. I highly recommend it if you like period dramas at all, and even if you don’t.

Jeremy and I had been catching up on a show on Hulu, so I had been seeing advertisements for Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist for weeks, and finally decided one night to give it a try. It’s such a delight! It’s weird and funny and silly, but with a lot of heart. The premise: after experiencing an earthquake in the middle of having an MRI, Zoey starts hearing people sing (and dance) their innermost feelings, and starts trying to help the people who sing to her (it kind of reminds me a little bit of that 90s show Early Edition. Anyone else watch that one back in the day?). Like I said, it sounds kind of silly, but I’m really enjoying it.

Upload was another show I kept hearing about (this time on Amazon Prime). In the near future (2030, I think), people have developed the technology to upload their consciousness into a virtual afterlife (if you can afford it, of course), a way to sort of live forever. It’s a light and funny show, but touches on some deep themes like mortality, love, connection, family. There’s a bit of a mystery too, and all packed in 30 minute shows. I will admit that I started watching it on a night Jeremy was out of town, and ended up watching almost the entire season (10 episodes) in one night. And yes, I did kind of regretted the late night the next day.

What I’m grateful for…

Summer weather has come to Houston with a vengeance (although this week has actually had some incredible weather), so today I’m grateful for our central air conditioning and the convenience of living with someone who can repair the A/C when it goes out at 10 pm. 

A little inspiration...

Excerpt from “Traveling at Home”

By Wendell Berry

Even in a country you know by heart

It’s hard to go the same way twice.

The life of the going changes.

The chances change and make a new way.

Deuteronomy 4:39

Know therefore today, and lay it on your heart, that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth beneath; there is no other.

Happy Summer, everyone! Stay hydrated, wear your sunscreen, and love your neighbor well.