Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 375-381

The big news is that I HAVE A VACCINE APPOINTMENT! I’ll be schlepping across town to the Portland Convention Center for my first Fauci Ouchie on Thursday. I never thought I would be so excited for a shot.

My impending vaccination got me thinking about this blog. When will the “dispatches from the distancing” end? I know that being vaccinated is not the end of it, but what will signal the end? I’ve decided that I’ll consider it the “after times” once our Governor removes the mask mandate. I realize that this will be state-specific, but I think it is a good marker for me.

In other news, it was Spring Break and we did almost nothing. Well, nothing that exciting. We did do a couple of mini hikes on Friday, which was fun. We went to two nearby State Parks–Champoeg and Willamette Mission. These are two of my favorite hikes, thanks to the historical aspect. Champoeg was the site of the town (before it flooded) where the vote was taken to have Oregon become a US territory. Willamette Mission was the site of the first mission (and, yes, I know that history is…problematic). I will say the Champoeg hike was more successful than the Mission hike. About a month ago, there was a large ice storm south of us and a number of the trails at WIllamette Mission are still closed for storm clean up. We were pretty much limited to walking on the bike trails, but it was a fun stroll.

The kids have one more week of pure distance learning. Apparently they have two “normal” days and then 3 days where they have assignments but no class meetings. This is because the school district had a plan to re-open but then the state announced their own timeline and the school district had to push everything up. As I’ve said many times, it frustrates me that this is based more on politics than anything. We’ve toyed with having the kids stay in distance learning and not do hybrid as they haven’t fallen behind this year. However, the kids–especially Chris–just really need the socialization. We’ll see how it goes. If needed, we can always pull them out again.

And, now, onto the books. As usual, I’m linking with Kathryn at Book Date and her It’s Monday…What Are You Reading? blog hop.

Because Spring Break kind of messed with my schedule, I didn’t have my normal reading times and this post will be a little shorter than usual.

Last week, I finished reading:

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner
(3.5 stars, Goodreads review)

As with just about any dual-timeline book, I almost feel like I need to review two separate books and this is no exception.

On the one hand, he have Nella, a late 18th-century apothecary who discreetly supplies poisons to women in desperate situations to use on the men putting them in those situations, and Eliza, a young maid who comes into Nella’s life. I found this part of the story quite interesting and I think Penner did a good job creating 1790’s London (and she included a map!).

The contemporary side of this book was less successful for me. I did relate to Caroline as a fellow History major who is not using her degree. But I found the whole drama with her husband rather predictable and, still, hard to believe at times.

So, a mixed bag for me. I guess I would ultimately recommend this to someone who enjoys historical fiction, but it probably won’t end up among my favorite reads.

The Secret Lives of Church Ladies by Deesha Philyaw (audiobook)
(4 stars, no Goodreads review)

This was my first short story collection on audio for me and it worked surprisingly well. I guess the fact that the book was good helped things, but the actual short story format was not an obstacle on audio for me.

I really enjoyed this collection. I will say that it is something that calls for earbuds if you have kids around as it is no holds barred in a number of areas. I also think the important part of this title is “secret lives” and not “church ladies.” In these stories, Philyaw takes a look at and tears apart the stereotypes of African American women in a way that is nothing short of compelling. I really appreciated the individual voices of these stories shone through, and narrator Janina Edwards made the most of that.

My only complaint was that, while the character voices were varied throughout the collection, the content itself could have used a bit more variation. There is some, but I almost felt like there were multiple stories trying to say the same thing.

However, that was not enough to turn the book for me and I ultimately enjoyed this one and may start “reading” more short story collections on audio.

This week, I started reading:

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

This is the first graphic novel that I’ve picked up because I really felt like I could connect with the story. This is Tyler Feder’s memoir of dealing with the grief of losing her mother. As my mother died 4 years ago, I know this pain–even if her mother’s death didn’t look anything like my mother’s (ironically, it looked very much like my mother-in-law’s).

I’m only about halfway through this but I’m finding it very honest and believable. Everyone grieves differently and there is no rule book, but it is easy to empathize and understand Feder’s emotions. On a more superficial note, she illustrates IN COLOR! This is such a pleasant change from all the monochrome graphic novels I’ve read.

I’m still reading:

The Art of Theft (Lady Sherlock #4) by Sherry Thomas
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
Monument by Natasha Trethewey

8 thoughts on “Dispatches from the Distancing – Days 375-381

  1. I am curious about Dancing at the Pity Party. Enjoy your week and your books…and since you asked, my DNF book was Let Her Lie, by Bryan Reardon. I had never read this author, so I should have known better than to go into it blind. I prefer books from authors known to me, or those that are highly recommended.


  2. Good luck with the vaccination! It will be wonderful when this pandemic is over and life can be more normal. Come see my week here. Happy reading!


  3. “I never thought I would be so excited for a shot.” Right? We never could have imagined. 🙂 Congratulations though- that’s awesome! And isn’t it nice that there is at least some light at the end of the tunnel? Hopefully, anyway.

    Your hikes sound great. I miss hiking. Hopefully this summer we can get some in as well.

    Be well this week!


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About Melinda