The end of the year and this decade arrived unexpectedly. Well, not completely unexpectedly for the former, but the whole ‘where did the twenty teens go?’ thing caught me by surprise. I’ve been reading and listening to ‘decade in review’ articles and podcasts for the last couple of weeks. Which inspired me to analyze my reading of 965 books over the last ten years.
The following compilation of ‘Top Five’ books for each year starting in 2010, do not include my occasional re-reads of favorites, like the works of Tolkien, Lewis, Jordan, Donaldson and Modesitt.
2010 (read 102)
Blackout/All Clear by Willis (Hugo/Nebula/Locus Best Novel Awards)
Sunday afternoon, once my Texas offspring recuperated from the long drive and boundless energy of the eighteen month old grandson, Derek suggested we play a game. He had brought several with him from home, a few with short play times (as little as five or ten minutes) and more complex board games that require more setup and explanation. I’d previously played Camel Up and Parade, neither of which I was in the mood for. 5-minute Dungeon I want to try before he heads back to Texas.
Derek suggested we play Pandemic, which I’ve been wanting to try for several years. While the grandson ran Royna ragged, Derek, Rachelle and I played two games of Pandemic. Kudos to my offspring for suffering through the first game and my steep learning curve.
Last week, I finished listening to or reading the rest of the short fiction I had earmarked for perusal before end of year in a previous post. I’m very grateful to the podcasts of various SFF magazines that fit perfectly into my daily commute. Many of the authors below are new to me. Only Aliette de Bodard, KJ Parker and Sarah Pinsker have I read previously.
Yesterday, while Rachelle and I braved shopping at Costco, Lowe’s and Target, my son, daughter-in-law and grandson drove safely but surprisingly quickly up I-35 from North Texas to Northeastern Kansas. They made only one stop, for gasoline at the southernmost KTA (Kansas Turnpike Authority) rest area. This is an amazing fete considering my grandson isn’t yet eighteen months old (that happens on the 9th day of Christmas next year).
The consequence, however, of a baby who sleeps for about nine hours on a family road trip is predictable (see photo above). By early evening, Derek and Royna were dozing on our new sectional while Senna wanted to explore all the strange new environment of our home. Interestingly, he’s not overly interested in the Christmas tree or the presents tucked underneath. Rather, he found one of the Costco boxes to be endlessly entertaining as well as an impromptu piano lesson from Rachelle which introduced him to a new noise maker he could easily reach.
Enjoy the shortest day of the year because I’m looking forward to the longest, darkest night of the year – every amateur astronomers dream.
Today, my son, daughter-in-law and grandson are driving here from Texas. They left before dawn and we anticipate their arrival late this afternoon.
With the help of my daughter, who arrived earlier this week, my main floor living area is mostly baby proof. And the new furniture was delivered Thursday afternoon. And Friday, Rachelle setup the Christmas tree and last night over home-made pizza we decorated (or rather she decorated because she’s the artistic one).
Rachelle and I will spend part of the day shopping, taking advantage of her Costco membership to stock up on food she can eat (corn allergy) and for the rest of the family as well. While I have a Christmas goose in the freezer, I need to plan for other meals and sides. Instead of just Terry and I to feed, I’ll have three to four times that many to provide for.
So we are ready for family gathering and making new memories until we once again scatter back to our nests for the new year.
My daughter landed early and safely very late Tuesday evening but didn’t step off the plane until Wednesday morning (technically a couple of minutes past midnight). Despite arriving at least fifteen minutes ahead of schedule, no gate crew could be found once the plane taxied to Terminal C. I kept my self from dozing off in the cell phone parking lot by leaving the car turned off despite temperatures in the teens. Rachelle finally called me and I navigated the surprisingly congested orange cone maze of construction that is the remaining two terminals at KCI to retrieve her before she froze to death. An uneventful drive home through Platte City and Leavenworth found us back at home by 1:30 a.m. My alarm goes off at 5:18 am.
Unsurprisingly, I ignored my alarm and slept an extra hour. I had convinced myself that Wednesday was the department gift exchange so I absolutely had to drive to work. I realized mid-morning that the gift exchange was Thursday so I could have worked from home. However, it was a mixed blessing, my absentmindedness, as it gave me the opportunity to take a late lunch and shop for my daughter at Trader Joe’s on Ward Parkway, about 10-15 minutes south of where I work. She has a corn allergy and many products at Trader Joe’s are safe for her to eat. And I found that of the two Trader Joe’s stores in the KC metro area, the one on Ward Parkway was larger and much easier to access than the one I visited last Saturday in Overland Park.
Most of the year, I’m heads down in full length books and novels. Only when I reach December, when my book clubs take a break for the holidays, do I come up for air enough to review any novellas or novelettes published in any of the magazines listed above. So I spent some time earlier this week, scrolling back through my Patreon posts to find all the ebooks I forgot to download for Uncanny and Strange Horizons. Then I scrolled through all the podcast episodes for authors I liked or had heard of for any works at least 40 minutes long (the length of half of my daily commute). I added several to my playlist and downloaded the ebooks to my tablet. My commute and lunch time reading was taken care of for the entire week.
In the midst of my second system upgrade of the week, my son called me to warn me they had changed their minds and were planning to drive up from Texas to visit us in Kansas for Christmas. My brain halted. Upgrade on hold. What?!?!
Our house, which we’ve lived in since February 1999, has never been baby or toddler proofed. In that year, 1999, you may remember, the one where everyone was panicking about Y2K, my children were in third grade and sixth grade (starting middle school in fact). So definitely no need to protect them from getting into drawers full of knives and kitchen utensils, nor from electric outlets and chemicals stored under the kitchen sink.
I’m really trying not to panic, truly I am.
My daughter flies in from Seattle next Wednesday at midnight. She will stay for ten days. That has been planned for weeks now. She was going to have the guest bedroom. Now, unfortunately, she will be relegated to an air bed in the cavernous great room or sleeping with me and/or her dad in the master bedroom. Terry and I tag team sleeping anyway because I am a morning person and he is a night owl. And we have a king size bed that all three of us could sleep in with room to spare.
So my son, daughter-in-law and grandson will have the guest bedroom.
Today I’ll shop for my daughter at Trader Joe’s because she has an alergy to corn. Fun fact (not so fun for her): Corn is in almost all processed and packaged foods and does NOT have to be listed on the ingredients.
Tomorrow I won’t be able to shop because we are under a winter weather advisory for 2-4 inches of snow from Sunday at 9 am until Monday at 6 pm. So I’ll have absolutely no excuse not to clean and baby proof my home.
I have twenty-four days left to read twenty-five books to reach my goal of reading one hundred and one books this year. I’m skeptical I’ll complete my self-imposed challenge.
I can possible finish another ten books, but I doubt I can do at least a book a day, not and work, clean, shop, etc. This will be the first time ever I won’t meet my reading challenge. I fudged a couple of years ago and lowered my challenge 2/3 or 3/4 of the way through the year due to work, school and home pressures. But this year I’m resisting the urge to adjust my goal post just to give myself a ‘fake’ win. I will suffer the shameful consequences.