Aug 23

‘Just like children sleepin’, we could dream this night away’

I swam 2,000 yards this evening. It was that or go stumble through a run, and my knees said: swim, why don’t ya? So I dove in, donned the ol’ goggles and started the freestyle stroke, with the occasional kick when I could remember to, counting laps along the way. Somewhere around 360 or 400 yards, my arms stopped complaining and just carried on with the effort. That’s my longest swim since 2015, where one fine September day I put 2,900 yards in the books. It is my 10th swim of the summer, and I did it all uninterrupted. I’m pleased with what seems like an impressive progression, and wondering what I’m doing poorly if I’m not a.) super winded or b.) exhausted or c.) both, after the fact, and if I have enough time to get to two miles this season.

Three, four, more swims, right? Surely that’s outrageous and feasible, all at the same time.

I do not know what is happening.

This has been a nice exercise. Something about the rhythm, even for an inconsistent water splasher as I am, becomes meditative enough. If you’re concentrating on keeping the lap count right or, occasionally, focusing on your technique, all of the other things can go out of your mind.

This lets the other things come back into your mind, because when you splash the water away at the wall, more water moves back through.

I don’t know what that means, either. Not really. I didn’t spend my time in the pool writing this. Clearly, that’s the oversight here.

Anyway, laps, time spent not writing this in my mind, because time was spent thinking about class preparation, instead. Not every day is a day full of deliverables, and this was one of those days. But! Two thousand yards!

Phoebe was not impressed. But, then, she’s a classic sidestroker, swimming on the carpet as she does throughout the day.

On Friday, she was very cuddly.

Some days, kitty needs dictate events. And part of Friday morning was one of those days.

Poseidon continues to maintain a watchful eye over his kingdom. He’s lately improved his approach to climbing up the narrow scratching post. What was once a chaotic effort to get up there for “Now what?” has become a confident, measured attack for “Where else should I be?”

I expect he’ll be leaping directly on top of it before long. When, that is, he’s not on the top of the refrigerator.

“No peektures, please.”

So the cats are doing just fine. So are their talons, as you can see a bit there.

We had an interesting bike ride on Saturday. We started too late. My fault. It was already quite warm. But we started with a tailwind. (Which is counterintuitive.) And so we had some impressive splits in the first half of the ride.

It was all I could do to hang on, so there’s no video, no shadow selfies or other cool camera tricks this time. Even still, we had the wonderful opportunity to see a few cool barns. This one was between here and there.

And this one we rode past just after our turnaround about halfway into the ride. (But more about our halfway destination at a later time.)

Soon after, we got back to a place that was more familiar, which meant my lovely bride could drop me. I was dead, but knew my way back, at least. I went a longer way, just for the spite of extra mileage. And, right at the end of that, I blew another inner tube.

They come in bunches for me, and that’s not frustrating at all, getting to break out a tire lever on your rear wheel twice in two weeks.

I suggested a lovely and romantic night out. There’s a winery nearby and they serve upscale pizzas on the weekend and it’s supposed to be lovely. Reservations were made, and 3.6 miles down the road we went. We timed it such that we caught last bit of the sunset creating a bokeh effect of the cars making the drive down the last dirt road. By the time we parked and got onto the property the sun was gone. A three-piece band was playing, mellow strains floating over the rows of grapes on the still August air being our introduction. This was the view.

We were sat right away. And the group played “Harvest Moon” as if on cue.

The only Neil Young song you need, really.

Some time passed and the hostess came by to see where our waiter was. You could tell there was some back-of-the-house drama going on. Someone else came to take our order. She did not know the special pizza of the day. A third person, then, stopped by to tell us about that creation, which was when our actual waiter turned up.

This was the special pizza of the day. They called it a Cubano, something or other. And though I have little need for dill pickles in general and no need for them on my pizza, you had me at Cubano.

Being the special, I reasoned, must mean that it was good. And it was good. Somehow those pickles worked.

They also had a lot of pizzas they put honey on. The Yankee’s had honey, and it was delicious, and maybe honey is one of those things, like bacon, that’s good on everything.

What if you put honey on bacon?

After an hour our pizza showed up, which is great, because I was about to launch into my whole “… and this is why I don’t pick restaurants” bit, which is absolutely why I don’t pick restaurants. We didn’t have a waiter. The place that is serving only pizza was struggling to get pizzas out. But it was tasty. The music was fine. The singer had a terrific Jeff Tweedy vibe, but judged his audience not-yet-ready for the Uncle Tupelo or Wilco catalogs. He mumbled when he talked. Couldn’t make out a single word. Sang wonderfully.

Our waiter, our real one, brought our pizza and … that’s about it. It brought up questions about who gets the tip, which is really just a question about why we use a tipping system, anyway.

After pizza we got a little ice cream, a nice end to a lovely day.

Yesterday afternoon we sat outside, as has been our recent custom, and read. I breezed through the second section of Eudora Welty’s memoir, One Writer’s Beginnings (1984). As I don’t read a lot of fiction, I’ve never read her work, but she’s a marvelous writer, and she delivers it with the most deft touch, when she’s talking about her bygone days. This second section — all of this book adapted from a series of lectures she delivered late in life — is about traveling as a young girl with her parents to see the extended family. Traveling from Jackson, Mississippi to West Virginia and Ohio was a week, one-way, in the car. At times they were ferried over creeks and rivers. Sometimes the ferry was powered by a man pulling on a rope. It was the 19-teens, and the same world, but harder.

The whole section dives into her grandparents, and deeper parts of the family roots as she understood them. And the people here are developed with the depth and care you would expect of a keen observer and a more-than-able writer. The very last part, after they’ve gotten home from the long summer journey …

“The events in our lives happen in a sequence of time, but in their significance to ourselves they find their own order, a timetable not necessarily — perhaps not possibly — chronological. The time as we know it subjectively is often the chronology that stories and novels follow: it is the continuous thread of revelation.”

I bet even that paragraph means different things to people at different points in their lives. Looking back and marinating in it all, re-playing and re-rationalizing things, putting a narrative to it all. It would be different to a woman of 74, as she was when she delivered that lecture at Harvard, than it would have been to the students in the audience. And the professors and middle-aged people in the room that nodded along sagely, they’d have another understanding, too.

It’ll probably mean something different to me, next Sunday, when I finish the book.

Aug 23

I suddenly feel semi-oriented

In late May, I bought a new backpack. It arrived in a timely fashion, and I stowed it away in my office. Of course, as planned, not too long after that I didn’t need to use a backpack. But I needed a new backpack. The shoulder straps were growing threadbare. The little handle at the top, the one you use to pick the bag up if it is on the floor, was all busted up. A zipper on one small compartment was broken beyond repair. Most distressingly, the bottom of the main compartment has two growing holes.

Friction. Rubbing my belt. Riding my bike to work. Dragging it on the ground. Whatever it was, my laptop and the other items carried in there would soon be at risk. It was time.

But it was a good bag. Carried all of my things. Spacious. Plenty of pockets. Lasted years and years. I don’t remember exactly when I bought it, but I remember where and the circumstances. Call it 2013 or 2014. Anyway, it worked well for a long time for a bag I tend to carry most every day. So I got my money’s worth from the cheapest bag I could find at a small office store, the bag that I thought, at the time, was too expensive.

So I bought the same bag again.

Why reinvent the method of moving my things? Why lay out a new way of lugging things? Why set up a new system? Why establish a new packing paradigm?

Last night, I emptied the old bag, and put all of my things into their same spot in the new bag. My computer and two small notebooks in the main computer. A camera stick, some tabletop tripods and a microphone in the secondary pocket. A bottle of Advil and two handkerchiefs in a side pocket. Two ponchos and two garbage bags — for emergency poncho or any other number of uses — inside the other side pocket. A small assortment of Post-it notes, multicolored, a few pens and sharpies, a thin container of bandages. Two umbrellas, four masks and a thumb drive or two. All of it where it belonged, in the same spots, in the new bag.

I discovered three additional smaller pockets inside a medium pocket on the old bag while doing this.

This morning, I hefted the new bag on my shoulder for the first time. The straps are stiff and new. And, somehow, it feels heavier, even without a few extra pieces in it I didn’t need today. Probably, I’m out of practice: I have carried a great many heavy things recently, but I haven’t put a backpack on my shoulders since mid-June.

Today, though, we went to Rowan. First day of new faculty orientation. Three days of this. Some of it is very helpful. Some is aimed at new faculty and, hopefully, those people are getting a lot out of those elements. Everyone is excited and happy, it seems. Attitude is important. Passion is important. Students and the work are important. But so is your well-being. This was, largely, the theme the president, Dr. Ali Houshmand offered in his welcome address at the brunch this morning.

And so everyone there was happy. Enthusiastic. Deans from different parts of the campus complimented the programs in drastically different part of the campus. Most everyone that spoke made a special effort to point out how long they’ve been at Rowan, and how it’s still a wonderful experience. That’s great. Very encouraging. I hope that’s the case for everyone, and not something they were asked to say. Even a Q&A session, the sort which could easily turn into a grouse fest was particularly upbeat. Very encouraging.

At the end of the day there was a little outdoor mixer. We talked with our dean. I chatted with an associate dean, a fellow who came over to administration from political science. He said that, I glanced at my lovely bride and she smiled, because she knew that was a good 15, 20 minutes of conversation taken care of. And so it was! He talked about his previous research, the structure of American-style politics. I asked him if he missed that sort of work since he’d gone over to administration. Then I asked him about the new paper on Article 3 of the 14th amendment. He said he hasn’t read the paper yet, but he knew of it, and he had some thoughts. Everyone has thoughts about that paper.

My little name tag, meanwhile, of course says “journalism,” but there I was, talking poli sci. Then I remembered what was on my name tag, so I asked him some broader and philosophical questions. It was a fun conversation.

The mixer was winding down, so we went over to say goodbye to our dean. We ran into Houshmand, the president. And the three of us talked for about 20 minutes. He easily shows off his keen, innovative ways of thinking about higher education, and his passion for the place and the task at hand. It was a delightful chat. It felt, almost, like getting permission to do something you weren’t expecting.

It was the longest conversation I’ve had with a university president in all my years, on any campus. I hope we have the opportunity to have several more.

But enough about me, let’s get to why you’re really here, the site’s most popular weekly feature, checking in on the cats. Phoebe, it seems, has rediscovered this little buffet table. She presently seems intent on making the surface, the floor below it and the airspace around it, strictly hers.

Poseidon was a very good boy much of the weekend. Which is not a thing we can say a lot. He was also quite cuddly this weekend. These two things often coincide. But he just looked, last night, like he was planning his next mischief.

And the good traits, of course, were not to last. He’s been a jerk all evening to his sister.

Probably that’s why she’s staking out that table top.

I had a big bike ride on Saturday. My lovely bride had a longer ride scheduled, and those are (usually) my favorite ones. We have, on our last two rides, added some new roads, which is wonderful, because there are so many new roads for us to explore. Saturday’s adventure involved a road we’ve been on a few times, some others we’ve been on just once, and the back half of the usual, easy hour route.

It was a big ride in the momentous sense. We were only out for about two hours, but on the back end of the ride, indeed, right in that area of the last shot in the above video, I broke my record for the most miles pedaled in a single year.

It’s a humble record, comparatively so, but it’s a new high for me. And the best part is I did that in August — even if I am behind on my spreadsheet’s projections — there’s a lot of time to build the new PR.

Yes, I have a spreadsheet for this. It’s one of the only spreadsheets I like, because it is simple, but also because the numbers only go up.

We also spent Sunday afternoon outdoors.

I swam a mile. Well, I actually swam 1,700, but I discovered that Strava gives you a little message “Congratulations, this activity is your longest swim on Strava!” when you set a new mark.

I also discovered I like seeing that message. Generally, internet badges don’t mean much to me because they don’t mean anything, but seeing that little box is a nice bit of encouragement. I’ve had longer swims, but they were long before I began using Strava. And since I am not training for anything in particular right now, and my swim is my own, and because I like that note, I might just increase every swim in small increments, just so I can get that message a lot.

This might be why I’m not terribly efficient in a gym, pool or anywhere else where new standards can be set.

As for the swim itself, it was rather spontaneous on my part. Seemed like a good idea. My shoulders disagreed for 100 yards or so, but after I ignored them for a while, they gave in and performed slightly more efficiently for a while, and the laps clicked away easily. It was a nice feeling.

I also sat in the shade and read the first third of Eudora Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings (1984). Welty is from Jackson, Mississippi, is revered as an incredible talent, a giant of her generation, and, for reasons that I don’t recall, I’ve never read the first bit of work, probably just because I don’t read much fiction, and the loss has been entirely mine. Here she’s examining the differences between her and her brothers. They were the in their laughter, but their anger is where their differences came up.

This book emerged from three lectures she delivered at Harvard, and were eventually turned into this memoir. The three sections are titled “Listening,” “Learning to See,” and “Finding a Voice.” All of it is self-possessed, none of it all consuming. She’s painting a triptych, I think, showing her surroundings in this delicate, sweetly innocent way, filling in her surroundings to show what makes the great author.

It’s all eminently relatable.

It has to stay in the house. Can’t go in the new backpack; I might be tempted to reach for it in between meetings.

Aug 23

I am onboard; I know where my towel is

With the viewing a lot of web videos and slideshows, I have now completed my onboarding process. I am onboarded. I only need to be welcomed aboard.

Speaking of which, there should be a form email in my inbox … oh there it is, right to the spam folder.

I had to forward that email to another email, as per the instructions of the ethics module. It was an hour-long slideshow telling you not to take gifts, and all of the things you can do, if you get special permission. It reminds me of a place I worked once that had very specific rules, the third rule in that old job you just knew showed up that high because someone was caught doing it and someone else realized Ya know, we don’t have a rule for that.

So the rules and the guidelines are all good. Some very specific. And there was a lot of time spent on whether or not you can own, manage or work in a cannabis shop. I don’t see myself owning, managing or working in a cannabis shop one day, but it’s nice to have the official guidance.

There’s always a specific story in the specifics.

There were some fun hypotheticals, the stories populated by characters with great names. My favorite was Paul Pushalot. There were two characters, though, that sounded familiar, both in name and circumstance. Familiar in a 1990s sitcom sort of way. Hopefully no producers with ties to ABC every watch that training module.

But, if they do, they’ll know about the cannabis store rules.

At the very end of the work week we took the garbage to the convenience center. (I wonder how long before I start writing that as the inconvenience center?) The gentleman that had to wait for us to drop off the recycling so he could close the gate behind us, on a Friday, wore the weary “I get home every afternoon at 5:08 and if it’s 5:09, the wife begins to worry” look on his face.

With that chore just barely done, the man checked his watch when we pulled in, I rinsed out the garbage cans back at the house. I considered how we can simplify the recycling paradigm. At the previous place the recycling center did containers for different kinds of glass, plastic, steel and aluminum. Here, it all goes into one bin. Maybe that means I don’t need to keep four big tubs in the garage. That would mean I have three extra tubs. I wonder what we could do with those.

Store tomatoes in them, probably. I brought in a great big armful again today. I’m enjoying so many tasty fruits that there is no way I can be dehydrated, or keep up. It is a great treat, though, to see all of the things that grow here.

We finished the first half of the seventh season (thanks Ronald Moore, for that silly innovation) of “Outlander” tonight. It took seven seasons for the characters to cover 30 years (and forget, mostly, about agin) and it’s taken an interminable amount of time for the show to work its way into the Revolution.

Daniel Morgan’s sharpshooters play a small part in these last episodes, as we have finally arrived at the Battle of Saratoga. Shows can’t show the full scale of battlefields, of course. Too expensive to have that many extras, and showing things as they were probably wouldn’t translate well to the format. But these guys were firing from 300 yards, at a time when volleys were effective at about 70 or 80 yards, and on TV it looked like close combat.

Also, Benedict Arnold is there. Now, in the show’s time in Scotland our protagonists rubbed shoulders with important people real and fictional. In France, they were in the king’s court for reasons I forget. And, in a Forrest Gump sort of way, they bumped into George Washington, when he was still that tall fellow from Virginia. The heroine is a mid-20th century time traveler of course — and I’m just here to see that explained; I’ve been assured it isn’t a coma, dream or aliens, but even as the characters are now trying to guess at understanding it, I am concerned about the resolution — but she’s British and only remembers the broadest strokes of the war in America.

Also, also, they keep running into other time travelers. Four that I can recall. All play bit parts and none add a lot to the story. Quantum Leap it ain’t. But there’s Benedict, calm and charming, personable, handsome, slight limp. They don’t give it away until you learn he’s a pharmacist, and then the limp becomes an editorial fixation. Later, some exposition clues in people in clever way what that guy’s story is, but Claire, the British protagonist brilliantly played by the Irish Caitríona Balfe, doesn’t know the details. She’s sure he must become a turncoat for the colonies to win the war, which is the side she and her main man are on. But the rest is … Why couldn’t a historian be a time traveler, you ask? Claire’s son-in-law is a historian, a 20th century Scotsman. When he went back to the past to chase his future wife he decided to become … a preacher. Not an especially good use of a unique skill set given where they were, but a delightful nod to the difference between the practical and the knowledgeable.

It reminds me of Arthur Dent, on Lamuella. You run across a backward planet and figure you could be running this place with your superior knowledge, skill and ambition, but then you realize the one thing you know how to do: you can make a really good sandwich.

Or, as Stephen Frye aptly said, “A joke about a small thing tells you a lot about a big thing, and a big thing turned into a small thing is just as true.”

So anyway, Claire knows Benedict Arnold has to, eventually, commit treason. Only know they are in each other’s orbits. And, eventually, she finds herself caring for him after a battlefield injury, and he confesses his anger. This part of the Arnold character is correct, though it seems like he isn’t intense here as he becomes in real life. Also, because our characters don’t know the real story of the man, they don’t know the audacity of this pharmacist as a military man.

I guess what I’m saying is that a series about Benedict Arnold and his upstate New York struggles could be fascinating. (They’d over-cast his wife.) Daniel Morgan, could he be a series? He deserves an anthology episode, at the least. Everyone knows Arnold’s name, even if they were never taught or read about the details. Morgan only comes up if you go to the battlefield, which is a shame, because his name should have passed into the common folklore. He is all over some of the specialty history books, the sort that dissect certain elements of that war, the sort I read from time-to-time. I’d suggest Washington’s Immortals and With Musket & Tomahawk as two I’ve read most recently. In the latter, Timothy Murphy gets a nice moment. In fact, one of the important sequences in that episode should have been highlighted as Murphy’s, but that’s TV for you.

I just realized I brought Douglas Adams into a historical fictional romance anecdote some 300 words back. That’s how you know when the rambling should stop. Belgium, it’s late.

(That makes sense. I probably won’t remember why when I traipse back upon this post in six years or whatever, but I promise, future me, that makes sense. It’s just really, really obscure.)

Jul 23

Too far removed for a basic service our neighbors get weekly

One thing you never think of as a fundamental, perhaps integral, part of modern life is garbage removal. This is strictly psychological, but no less important because of it. As I think I mentioned last week, the company that used to do the garbage pickup here closed the other account and immediately decided they don’t service this area anymore. Despite having done so previously, and working throughout the little neighborhood.

So I finally found, last week, a new company that services the area. We opened an account with them. Great! First order of business, getting new cans delivered. That was supposed to happen on Thursday, Friday, or today. This, you see, is important because the pickup is supposed to begin tomorrow.

You want that to happen, the normalcy of it. The expected routine. Wheeling the cans down to the street, wheeling them back up the next day. Knowing there’s a can out there to put your carefully sorted things in. It’s just normal.

Using an old storage bin to put a bag into, and then carrying it to the transfer station is less normal. We’ve been doing that for a month. The good news, I guess, is that we are somehow pretty efficient. In a month we’ve only done that twice, accounting for three kitchen-sized garbage bags. (Plus the recycling.)

Just as I write that we learn that the new company has stopped servicing the area. Despite what their website, and their customer service reps, said. Two databases queried; two misses. Also, we’re surrounded by towns and cities, and yet, in no service area? (Despite, again, the previous and existing … service.)

Hopefully these companies are better at doing business with the customers with whom they do actual business. They’re proving themselves lousy at working with potential customers.

It is once again time for the site’s most popular weekly feature. Time to check in on the cats. Phoebe is working on her camouflage game.

She’s making progress.

She’s also still discovering new spaces. to sit. I suspect she’ll come to like that little ledge.

It commands the room, has corner windows and will give her evening sun.

Speaking of discovering new space, Poseidon was genuinely surprised that he wasn’t wanted up there. Which is odd, because if he wants to be there, he probably isn’t wanted there.

The more familiar places are better, though I’m not sure he’s buying what I’m selling.

In other words, the cats are doing just fine.

We went for a bike ride on Saturday, and there is video to prove it.

Also, on these really sunny days, the photos amuse me. It’s all constant motion, of course. And The Yankee is easing back into her tri-bike now, which means we’re about to go even faster. (Which means I’m going to have work harder to keep up. Which means I need to get faster, and better fitness, so I can keep taking cool photos like this.)

The alternative to keeping up is catching up. Some days that’s possible. On the days that it is impossible, I just slow down and enjoy the ride, and take other photos.

Also on Saturday we headed north for a 75th birthday party. It was a surprise party for my godfather in-law. (My lovely bride’s godparents. Just go with it.) There was his family, his lifelong friends (my in-laws) a handful of his work friends, Italian foods and a homemade cake. We sat with a man who was pushing 90, and loved to talk about his grandchildren, and old handyman projects. Nice fellow.

After the dinner we repaired to the godparents’ home, and watched the kids swim. I coached one into doing flip turns. No doubt owing to my masterful teaching techniques, she had the basics down on her third try.

We left just before the rain. Drove for a bit in the rain, but then we were rewarded with some beautiful views.

And the front behind this storm system (which was in some places, dangerously breezy) is what broke the heat wave. Also, those windshield views.

We were back in the 80s on Sunday, today, and all this week. And because it felt comparatively mild yesterday, we spent the afternoon sitting outside, reading.

I finish May Sarton’s “Journal of a Solitude.” It’s an actual journal the poet kept for a year.

On the last entry, she talks about the coming New Hampshire fall, writes obliquely about breaking up with her partner. (Sarton, from what I’ve gathered from other places, was apparently a challenging person to be around. She wrote more about that part of herself, and its impact on this relationship, more than the relationship itself.) She seems to be coming to the realization that this breakup was a long time coming, and that she was meant to live alone.

She also sent off her latest collection of poetry, “A Durable Fire,” her 10th collection of poetry and her 26th book, the day before this final entry.

She says “When I began writing those poems I had had the dream that I would celebrate my sixtieth birthday with a book of joys, a book speaking of fulfillment and happiness. But on the final re-reading I saw clearly that it is an elegiac book, and that the seeds of parting were in it from the beginning. This where poetry is so mysterious, the work more … ”

Mystery of poetry? If the poet says so. The biggest literary mystery I can concern myself with right now is what to read next. There are many, many options.

So many options.

Just not for garbage pickup.

Jul 23

I won’t talk about unpacking anymore (after this)

We are now down to unpacking the dining room. We have no pressing urge to unpack the dining room. And the guest bedroom. That will need some actual attention.

Today, some things got put on some walls. This is always an interesting exercise. New house, same decor. On the one hand, this is very comforting. The bedroom — aside from a wacky paint decision and, for the first time ever, having windows at the head of the bed — is starting to feel like a familiar place. Those picture frames are an important part of that. But then you might think, Oh this one again, eh?

And then you feel bad about that. Because you love that souvenir print, or the photo you took or the gift you received.

I wonder if people on makeover shows feel this way too.

This looks great, but why did you leave my freckles on my face?

These are the things that help make us who we are, though, and you do love that print, that photo and that sign you got a few Christmases ago.

Yesterday I unpacked my audio equipment. Now I just need to deaden the sound in my home office-studio. That’ll take forever to agonize over.

Today I unpacked my half of the library. The joy, the challenge, of unpacking your library is putting things back on shelves thinking, “I should read this again. And I should read that again. And I should read … ”

I alternated between thoughts of kicking myself, in the haste and hustle of packing ourselves, I did not think about it at the time, but maybe I should have photographed how I had my books displayed in their book cases. On the other hand, this is kind of freeing and I can make this a new start, with my old books. And also my new ones.

(At least I photographed how we’d built the cat trees, they were reassembled easily, and before most everything else for some reason.)

So, of course The Gloms are in chronological order here in my office. The other two bookshelves in my office, which hold the Books To Read have been loosely arranged in order of interest and priority. But in the library downstairs, there were boxes to open and shelves to fill today. How to do that?

I’m not going to say it took longer than it should, because these are books and this is important — and no I do not use the Dewey Decimal System or the Library of Congress Classification system and, no, I am not a librarian, why do you ask? It took as long as it should, because I reworked the shelves a few times.

Memoirs and autobiographies got two shelves. Cycling books got a shelf. Textbooks and the like got a bottom shelf. (I still have two bins of actual textbooks that are awaiting their eventual fate. They will stay packed up at least through the summer.) Pretty much an entire bookcase is devoted to history. And there’s a pile of things over on a chair that I’m going to donate, or put in a little library. And there are some biographies that are somehow missing … maybe they’re with the kitchen knife and the good scissors.

It is strange what goes missing when you pack in haste.

This evening, we had a lap swim. The Yankee easily outpaced the ducky.

For my part, I swam a half-mile, 832 yards. Not bad for my third lap swim of the last week, which was also my third lap swim since 2015. Oddly enough it felt … good? Is that the word I want there? Was that because the water was hot-in-July? Every time The Yankee finished a (much more impressive) set she’d break the surface and say, “Uuuugh,” in a non-ironic way. Swimmers like the pool to be colder. Helps with the speed. Goosebumps are hydrodynamic it turns out.

That’s not the case, at all, actually.

Anyway, I feel like I’m close to a technique breakthrough, or at least a conscious-brain understanding of something. It will have nothing to do with kicking, of course, but there’s a progression to be made. And I wasn’t even especially sore or tired. Because I only swam 832 yards. Let’s see what happens this weekend when I add on a few more laps. And, also, if I can raise my arms above my head tomorrow. Let’s see what happens there, first.

OK, this is the penultimate performance I’ll share from the Indigo Girls concert we saw last month, which also happened to be simultaneously both yesterday and 18 months ago.

This is a song from the 2004 album “All That We Let In,” and, while it isn’t a song for everyone, and it is a bit of a divergence from the band’s brand, it puts Amy Ray’s power squarely on display. And here’s the thing I learned about lifetime activists playing near their metaphorical backyard in these trying times — and during Pride, no less — they didn’t make a big deal of much of anything in this concert, though they certainly had the receptive audience. I’m sure they know what works for them and their fans by now. And I’m certain that people who do real community work, as Ray and Saliers have since the 1980s, know something said into a microphone is minuscule compared to raising money and using elbow grease. But in these moments, where showing one’s support is a sort of social capital, this is understated. Four words, right there in Nashville, right before one of the more straightforward socially driven protest songs in their catalog, and that was all. That’s all she needed.

Speaking of Ray’s power. Tomorrow we’re closing this little feature with the best song of the night. It was a moment, and I can’t wait to watch it again.

Back to the Re-Listening project, and we have a lot of catching up to do from the long car ride. Let’s chip away, shall we? (I’m still a dozen discs behind.) Remember, I am listening to all of my old CDs, in the order in which I acquired them, and trying to think of something to write about them here, while I embed videos from YouTube.

Fiona Apple’s “When the Pawn…” was released in November 1999, the second studio album for the young phenom. She won a Grammy for a debut record in 1997, which came out when she was 20. The followup got two more Grammy nominations. Spin magazine called it the the 106th greatest of the last quarter century in 2010. For Slant Magazine it was listed as the 79th best album of the 1990s. No less than Rolling Stone ranked “When the Pawn…” at number 108 on its 2020 “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” list. It finally went platinum that same year.

To me, her debut, “Tidal” is an incredible record. And more than a quarter of a century later it still feels fresh and raw, sure, but also accomplished and something which demands attention. “When the Pawn …,” however, easy to have on in the background without notice. I don’t write the Re-Listening project entries as reviews, of course, but usually try to associate them with some silly memory or odd bit of personal trivia. But I can’t think of a single thing that goes along with this record. I can’t even recall hearing it in the car this time around, though I know I was in Ohio at the time, and that was just two weeks ago. (To be fair, I was very tired, and probably distracted.)

The next thing on the playlist was another sophomore release, Filter’s “Title of Record.” They got good alt radio airplay, and even MTV spun their video, and so they moved more than 800,000 copies between August 1999 and early 2001. Sometime after, they went platinum.

Three singles, but I only bought it for one, a good belt-out track. I was apparently not alone in that. This song climbed into the top-20 on nine different international charts. Domestically, “Take A Picture” reached number 12 on the US Billboard Hot 100, topped the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and peaked at number four on the Billboard Mainstream Rock Tracks chart and landed at third on the Modern Rock Tracks chart at number three. It also settled at number seven on the Adult Top 40, and number 15 on the Mainstream Top 40 at number 15. The year 2000 was a good year for Filter, one hopes.

I was in a grocery store parking lot, a Meijer, in Middletown, Ohio when that sixth track came on. (Their next show, in August, is at a festival in Ohio.) It’s always been a car track to me, and so this was appropriate, even if I was riding at a parking lot speed as opposed to the usual interstate speed.

Funny how I think of almost every car song as being heard on only really fast roads. High(er) speeds just go with music, and most of the commutes of my life.

Let’s do one more CD, just to get it out of the way. After Filter there was Third Eye Blind’s “Blue.” Didn’t care for it when it came out — if I know how much airplay they were going to get I would have not purchased it — and I don’t care for it now.

That was quick. But not interstate quick.