TBR List Declutter, Issue 31


“Why does San Diego have to be so sunny all the time?” asked my son. “I wish it would rain more.”

My son is lover of the cold. He dances when it snows, revels in ice, has the sense to avoid coming in out of the rain.

He is having difficulty adjusting to life in Southern California.

I, however, am having less difficulty. Part of it is that I lived in San Diego as a child, for six of my first ten years, in two three-year increments. San Diego is stored in my memory as “normal.” Canyons and cliffs and dry air and constantly moderate temperatures are my baseline. It’s still an adjustment, but I have to remember it’s more of an adjustment for my children.

“I think when I grow up I won’t move at all,” said my son. “Moving seems like a lot of work.”

I forget that the influences in my children’s lives are different than those from my own childhood, and therefore their thoughts and feelings will differ from my thoughts and feelings about the same subjects. A boy who can only remember living in New England might not have the same sense of “home” in Southern California as I do.

My son is clearly a different person than I am. I feel humbled to be reminded of that.

Visual Interest:

From Fordyce Bath House, which was made into Hot Springs National Park’s museum and visitor’s center:

This is the skylight from the men’s bathing area of the spa.

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.


Titles 331-350:

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 30

I’ve been lifting in weight rooms since I was fourteen, mostly in college fitness centers. Most of these weight rooms have had ample benches and multiple sets of weights, and most times I’ve had no problem having a bench to myself and accessing the weights that I needed. Even if I got there and all of the benches were in use, I felt comfortable approaching someone and asking to work in (take turns lifting during while each of us rested between sets) and even asking someone to spot me if it was a day when my spouse wasn’t there. This is what I expect when I go to a weight room.

There’s a fitness center in the apartment complex where we’re staying until we find more permanent housing (or whatever passes for “permanent” for someone who’s moved twenty-three times). Usually I work out with free weights at home, but there are some limitations to that set-up (e.g., no bench, no good way to work my lats, only five-pound increments), so while we have access to a fitness center I’m hoping to make some progress I haven’t been able to make lifting at home.

This apartment complex fitness center has weights, but one couldn’t really call it a weight room. There are only two flat benches, one set of dumbbells, and no barbells. Around the perimeter of about a third of the room are resistance machines and the rest of the space is devoted to high-tech cardio machines (and I won’t even go into how I feel about the idea of running on a treadmill when we live in a place with perhaps the most perfect weather in the world).

Maybe due to a sense of scarcity around free weights, people are a little more possessive with their lifting accoutrements.

The men working out seem to be more aware of the weight room etiquette I expect, or at least they’re accommodating when a 5-foot-tall woman asks to use the twenties sitting by their feet while they’re between sets. But I find that the women are a different story.

This morning when I arrived at the gym there was a man using one of the benches and a woman standing next to a bench doing squats. It was chest and triceps day, so I definitely needed a bench. Since the woman doing squats wasn’t actively using the bench, I approached her (her name was Heather*. I know because it was painted in script on her plastic straw cup).

“Are you using this bench?” I asked.

Heather looked at me unsmiling and said, “Fine, go ahead,” and started to pick up her weights.

Now, maybe I was just sensing brusqueness that wasn’t there, but she seemed put-out to me.

“We can work in—take turns—if you need the bench,” I offered, but she was already moving, head down, to the area behind the benches where she continued her lower-body workout. By the time she needed a bench, the man using the other bench was done, and we both had a bench to use. So, it worked out, but she refused to make eye contact with me the rest of the time.

The interaction left me confused. I can’t figure out if I read the situation wrong or if it was just her personality. Maybe it was a difference in expectations for shared equipment or a difference in culture between a college gym and an apartment complex fitness center, or maybe she was intimidated by my upper arms, which I can’t really hold against my sides anymore because they’re so muscular. If I really wanted to know if it was a culture/etiquette thing, I would try to engage fellow lifters in conversation to get a sense for general expectations, but knowing myself, it’s more likely that I’ll just try to lift during a time when no one else is there.

Enough of the weight-lifting tangent. On to the visual interest, another sunset, this one while we were at the playground:


I assume that I will eventually cease to notice San Diego sunsets, or at least cease to be breathless at their beauty, but for now, I remain short of breath every evening.

Where were we?

  • Tangent – check!
  • Visual Interest – check!
  • Books – Ah, yes. That’s the point of this whole thing. On to the next twenty titles!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 311-330:

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 29

Welcome to another twenty-title TBR List Declutter blitz!

As promised in Issue 28, here’s some visual interest. This is a pill bug we befriended on our way home from the playground:


I fear that the feeling of friendship might have been a little one-sided. Also, I can’t look at a rolled-up pill bug without wondering what it would be like to crunch the little fellow between my molars. To date, I haven’t attempted to find out for real, but the wondering persists.

Speaking if wondering, if you find yourself wondering what this is all about, check out the introductory post.

Titles 291-310:

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TBR List Declutter, Issue 28

Hi, there! How’s it going?

Things are great here, although “here” has changed recently. A couple of times, actually. It’s been exciting and tiring and kind of disorienting.

But now that things are settling a little bit, it’s back to decluttering my TBR!

I’m going to try to zoom through the declutter by doing 20 titles per post for a while. Perhaps I’ll include a little non-book-cover visual interest to mix things up a bit. Like this, from the passenger seat of my car in San Diego, California:


Now, on to the books!

Wondering what this is all about? Check out the introductory post.

Titles 271-290(!):

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Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 8

Tucson, Arizona (where we took a morning hike at Saguaro National Park, pictured below) to San Diego, California, our destination for this road trip.

Distance: 417 miles (3,198 of 3,198 total miles (100% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 6 hours

Temperature Range: 47°F to 77°F (then back down to 63°F and foggy by the time we got to San Diego)

Where we ate: At our temporary apartment (tamales, chicken with sweet potatoes and onions, sautéed green beans, chocolate ice cream)

Miles Remaining: 0

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 7

Las Cruces, New Mexico (where we took a morning hike at Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, pictured below) to Tucson, Arizona (where we met up with one of my friends I haven’t seen since junior high and her partner)

Distance: 279 miles (2,781 of 3,198 total miles (87.0% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 4 hours

Temperature Range: 31°F to 79°F

Where we ate: Maynard’s Market

Miles Remaining: 417

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 6

Abilene, Texas, to Las Cruces, New Mexico (where chilies are a very popular ingredient and where they also have cool public sculpture, like “Eagle Man” pictured below)

Distance: 497 miles (2502 of 3,198* total miles (78.2% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 7 hours

Temperature Range: 30°F to 55°F

Where we ate: Dragonfly

Miles Remaining: 696

More notes about this leg of the journey:

  • We drove through El Paso and glimpsed the border fence and Ciudad Juárez on the other side.
  • Passed some high-density feedlots in New Mexico that put me off steak again, at least until my memory of the taste of steak again overpowers my memory of the smell as we went by those feedlots.
  • We visited the Las Cruces library, our first library of this road trip. My children were immediately in their element. There were a few titles I wanted to have on hand for the 24in48 readathon later this month, and I found myself thinking, “I’ll pick those up when we get home,” before realizing that we kind of don’t have a home right now. Home is where the library is for my children, and I made a mental note to take us on a tour of the San Diego branch libraries once we reach our destination. Our thoughts about the branch libraries might carry a lot of weight as we decide which neighborhood to settle in.
  • It’s exhausting enough traveling cross-country, but traveling with everything we think we’ll need for two months (and our cat and everything he needs for two months) is even more exhausting. And I packed one too few pairs of underwear for this road trip, and I’m down a shirt after the underarm seams of one of my shirts tore yesterday when I stretched. I am officially road-weary and in need of a washing machine.

*You might notice that this number is different than it was on days 1-5. Google Maps must have had some kind of argument with itself between Day 1 and today, and decided 3,198 was the more accurate number. If the total doesn’t match up when we get to San Diego, I’ll change the numbers until they do match. It’s a good thing I’m not an accountant.

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 5

Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Abilene, Texas (which is the Storybook Capital of America and in the downtown of which we visited a variety of fairy-tale-inspired sculptures (Goldilocks and the Three Bears are pictured below))

Distance: 477 miles (2005 of 3,156 total miles (63.5% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 7 hours

Temperature Range: 19°F to 55°F

Where we ate: The Beehive Restaurant
Miles Remaining: 1,151

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 4

Jackson, Tennessee to Hot Springs, Arkansas (where we visited Hot Springs National Park)

Distance: 273 miles (1,528 of 3,156 total miles (48.4% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 4 hours

Temperature Range: 5°F to 25°F

Where we ate: Bubba Brew’s Brewing Company Spa City Taproom

Miles Remaining: 1,628

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 3

Northeast Ohio to Jackson, Tennessee (where we had catfish, po’boys, and steak for dinner)

Distance: 634 miles (1,255 of 3,156 total miles (39.8% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 10 hours (including two rest stops)

Temperature Range: -2°F to 26°F

Where we ate: Redbone’s Grill and Bar

Miles Remaining: 1,901