Once upon a midnight dreary…

I have hit a reading slump lately. I’m still up with the baby once a night or so, and sometimes he has trouble going back down, or I do. So I am tired, and pondering “weak and weary” as Edgar Allen Poe would say, but sadly, not over “many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore.” I can’t muster the energy, and I seem to have exhausted the literature on Neanderthals and early humans. I welcome reading suggestions. I did, however, read The Raven several times, and forced some of my children (including one who had expressed interest in the concepts of rhyme and meter) to listen to my read-aloud performance of the poem. It’s a long-time favorite.

We are coming into the “bleak December” as Poe would also call it — rainy, cold, the trees bare, but no snow. The good news is that we’ve been going to play and walk at the new house, and the yard still looks lovely, even in its winter condition, so I’ve been feeling happy about that…well, until I got stung by a wasp while I was sitting on some old stone steps. I have no idea how a wasp was even still out in November but I have the giant welt and red splotches to prove it. Better me than the kids, I guess.

Thanksgiving highs and lows…I made my sister-in-law’s secret family recipe rolls. Since we weren’t celebrating in person, she shared the recipe and then hosted a zoom session to teach how to make them. I thought they came out pretty well! The 12 pound turkey took 2 hours longer to cook than the instructions said it would, and since my husband and I were the only ones eating it — the kids all filled up on rolls — we have a lot of leftovers. My little brother and his fiancee had an 18-lb turkey for just the two of them so they really will be eating turkey for a while. My husband tried a new stuffing recipe and it came out better than the version I’ve made in my past few attempts, so that’s a win.

I did pretty much no black Friday shopping as my credit card number was compromised, and through a long string of unfortunate events, I still do not have a working replacement. I guess on the plus side this is one way to resist the sales!

We went to Longwood Gardens and saw the beautiful Christmas lights, trees, and poinsettias in the green house. The kids fought a lot, which made me quite unhappy, as this was supposed to be a major item on my holiday fun list. But I wound up getting a ticket for just me on an upcoming weekday. I’m considering it an early present to myself. We also went to see the Morris Arboretum’s garden railway, which was just a little jewel of sparkling lights. We trimmed our own tree too — putting all the ornaments at least two feet off the ground so the little guy won’t pull them down. I’m sure he’ll be be trying to eat a lot of needles though!

13 thoughts on “Once upon a midnight dreary…

  1. Hi Laura, great idea about going to Longwood on your own. I love going during the holidays too but last year with kids (age 1 and 3) was NOT fun so I had crossed it off of my list this year as I do not think it will be any better with them still being young and fairly cranky at times. You have inspired me to still go and enjoy this- alone! Thanks!

  2. Perhaps short stories are worth a look – for those tired times, and for the middle of the night? Or more poetry? I like Wislawa Szymborska, a very well-known modern Polish poet. We also have a copy of a Poem for Every Night of the Year and I think one of my 2021 goals will be to read a poem each day. I’ll put it on the kitchen counter and read the poem instead of insta scrolling while I’m waiting for the kettle.

  3. When low on energy, consider page-turners (rather than literary quality). The story will most certainly carry you along, when your energy won’t. 🙂

  4. I recently read a middle grade novel, which is not my typical thing. It was The War that Saved my Life. It was just the thing for my current compromised attention span as well as very engaging.

  5. For reading recommendations, I recently read The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and really enjoyed it. In fact, anything by Patchett has been good.
    For a quick read, Heating and Cooling: 52 micro-memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly was really enjoyable. She is a local author in my town and I enjoyed the combination of light and heavy in these memoirs.
    Another good book I read last month was This is how it always is (free on Kindle Unlimited) by Laurie Frankel. It’s about a family with 5 boys – so I’m sure there will be parts you can relate to! The main plot is related to the youngest who struggles with gender identity. The prose flowed well and the story is well-layered and beautiful.

  6. In case you’re interested, I saw that NYCB will stream its 2019 production of “The Nutcracker” starting on 12-11 ($25 @ https://www.marquee.tv/videos/nycb-nutcracker-2020), and the Oratorio Society of NY will stream a live (free) performance of Handel’s Messiah on 12-21, and available on demand thr’ 01-10 (https://oratoriosocietyofny.org/). I put both on my calendar as holiday presents of time to myself. Sending you hugs for those sleep-deprived baby nights!

  7. I also recently read The Dutch House but it was my least favorite of anything I have read by Ann Patchett. I loved her other books. My favorite recent book was American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings. It follows a Mexican boy and his mother as they try to escape the cartel that murders their whole family in the first chapter.

  8. Thanks to the craziness of this year, I had a minimal attention span for reading through the summer but seem to have regained it. A couple of recent light, but good novels: Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid (also has a Philly/NYC connection), Oona Out of Order by Margarita Montimore, and The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. I can’t read anything weighty or dystopian right now.

    LOVE the idea of a holiday fun activity by yourself. SO smart. I bought myself a tea assortment I’m using like an Advent Calendar and will drink while I work on a December scrapbooking project each day 😉

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