Fits and Starts

Source: AllthingsclipartSince the start of the new year, I’m finding myself in a bit of a disorganized rut. I start one thing, and after a short period I’ll set it back down; then I’ll start another only to have it suffer the same fate. There are worse things, of course, which I’ll actually get to in a few moments. But suffice to say that just under four and a half years into early retirement, I’m experiencing my first moment of restlessness. To quote a more prominent person who I understand is feeling similarly right now, “poor me.”

So I hope, dear readers, that you’ll indulge me as I dispense with my usual one-topic essay in favor of a potpourri-type missive here. Fear not: for those who nod off or otherwise begin to also find their attention spans challenged, I promise you a plate of freshly baked cookies along with a glass of milk at the end of this post. I am grateful for your indulgence and patience. If nothing else, we strive for benevolence here at Snakes in the Grass.


The above photo, ever so slightly staged in an attempt to provide at least lame evidence of my scattered pursuits, includes the following:

Three books.¹ Hoo boy. Not since college  have I attempted to read more than one at a time, and back then it was rarely for pleasure. I realize some people actually do read more than one book a time, but I can’t ever do that. Yet, in the last month or so, this is exactly what I’ve been doing as I flit from one thing to the next. In spite of my troubles, I can tell you that the top book in the photo, Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee, is absolutely the best novel I’ve read in years. During rare moments of relative concentration, I really am enjoying this story about four generations of a Korean family. It is passionate, haunting and beautiful. HIGHLY RECOMMEND.

Money matters. Our accountant is way too punctual. No sooner did we clean and put away the champagne glasses to celebrate 2019 than we received her “organizer” for our upcoming taxes. The organizer runs about 15 pages and always requires hours of finding pertinent paperwork and, well, organizing it into groups. I tend to be good about filing away IRA, brokerage, and bank statements during the year, but now I have to sort through all that information and copy it onto her blank spaces. Fortunately there is occasional mirth in the process: when your wife is a professional psychic, it’s interesting to see what kinds of business deductions she attempts to submit. Most of them never actually make it to the accountant, but I do enjoy her spirit. So to speak.

Solidarity. As I poke fun about restlessness and my own lack of an attention span, former colleagues of mine still on the job are coping with a partial shutdown of the federal government, now in day 30 as I write this. Over 800,000 federal employees are affected, plus scores of contractors. As of last Friday, many of them missed their second paycheck. Some have been forced to stand in line at donation centers for handouts of food and groceries. My pension fortunately continues to be paid; but in solidarity, I’ve made several phone calls and sent emails to my senators and congressional representative to voice my objection about the ongoing madness. From food inspectors, to airport safety measures, to food stamps, this shutdown is impacting many Americans, not just civil servants.

Random fits and starts…

We are currently backed-up with our TV shows. Regular readers here might recall that last year we started a streaming subscription to Acorn TV, plus enabled the Prime service from our Amazon membership. For two people who’ve never really been huge TV watchers, it’s admittedly an embarrassment of riches. We’ve been binge-watching the shows Vera, Midsomer Murders, Shetland, Ladies of Letters, and Goodnight Sweetheart. I noticed on the DVR last week that the new season of “Victoria” started again on PBS, as did a new episode of “This is Us” on NBC. We haven’t even gotten to those yet. And somehow, in spite of the Bronx cheer I get in my own living room, I am keeping tabs on the last season of Big Bang Theory. Too much to watch, so little time.

The NFL playoffs just concluded, which means that the Super Bowl is coming up early next month. Other than the Thanksgiving day Lions game, which I turn on primarily because of tradition (with the sound low or muted), the Super Bowl is the only professional football game I watch at all. It’s the one day of the year that Gorgeous will hold her tongue (and her stomach) when I go out and bring back appetizers from the frozen food aisle like those sticky Buffalo wings, etc.

The Rams in 14. Oh, and I don’t know Maroon 5 at all; bring back Bruce.

Has your gym been overcrowded from the annual wave of people who join after the start of the new year? Ours was and it became sort of comical at times because of the sheer number of them. However, we noticed only last week that already the crowds are starting to thin out again. I can return to getting my favorite machine in my favorite location (near the overhead TV airing CNBC, away from one showing Fox News). I hate to wish bad tidings on anyone, but I’m always relieved when the newbies go back to their regular routines, or at least find a more preferred time to workout.

For those who made it this far, I did promise freshly baked cookies and milk. Enjoy. Those of you who cheated and came here immediately without reading, we know who you are and we’re taking names.

Until next time…


¹ (1) Pachinko by Min Jin Lee, 2017 Grand Central Publishing; (2) Gracie: A Love Story by George Burns, 1988 G.P. Putnam’s Sons; and (3) People Like Us by Dominick Dunne, 1988 Crown Publishers.

I read recently how the 1950’s “George Burns and Gracie Allen Show” is considered by some television historians to be cutting-edge, and also a blueprint of sorts for later TV sitcom successes. For instance, Burns’s breaking of the fourth wall to speak directly to viewers was unique for this new medium at the time. After watching a handful of episodes on YouTube, I was inspired to read Burn’s tribute to his then-late wife, Gracie.  

31 thoughts on “Fits and Starts

  1. Hey! I have one of those fans…only mine is blue!
    However, I don’t got any freshly baked cookies at hand to nibble on and yours look sooo yummy.
    Hey! I just finished a book, too (for the record, excellent – ‘The Silver Music Box’ by Mina Baites) and I’ve been having a hard time focusing on the written word, too.
    How’s about adding PBS’ ‘Call the Midwife’ to your roster of must binge-on shows? I guarantee the ‘gorgeous’ lady will enjoy them (and you can space out while she thinks you’re enjoying them, too)
    As for taxes, everything’s in order for us…but even when I check off stuff on my to-do list, I still feel very scattered.
    Hey! I’ve got lots of federal worker-friends on furlough…don’t get me started on all of that (it’s a disgrace…)
    Can you tell, I’m with ya on this?
    Enjoyed the relate-able post!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Laura, you win the award for best responses ever…. now let’s form the workstation fan club.

      We loved Midwife and finished the back-run of them literally just before the recent Christmas episode; we’re anxiously waiting for the start of the new season (still mourning Nurse Barbara too).

      Thanks so much for the Silver Music Box recommendation. I definitely will check it out. My reading list is always heavily tilted to non-fiction, so it’s good to get some novels in the queue too.

      Thanks for the solidarity. 🙂


  2. Pachinko is on my book club’s reading list so I’m glad to know it’s a good one. If you aren’t watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel you need to fix that NOW! Stay up all night if you have to. Thanks for the milk and cookies! I swear that I didn’t cheat and eat them first… burp.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve heard that ‘Marvelous,’ so we’re going to have to check it out. Once we start one of these shows that have been on a while, though, my wife wants to watch the whole back run and nothing else till we finish! It makes it hard to fit anything else in, but I’m completely complicit in this scheme. 🙂 Good on you for having Pachinko on your list — it is fantastic.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I sometimes think we bloggers put too much pressure on ourselves to write as if we’re getting paid the big bucks. Thus we feel we have to write on one topic, in-depth. This is my way of saying that I like this post and find that once in a while it’s good for the soul to just write stuff down.

    Good luck finding what your accountant wants, best of luck with your crowded gym, and I’ll add Pachinko to my TBR stack. Also, the little red fan on your desk is adorable. So cute.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you’re right, Ally. It is comical to some degree; that we’re upholding a literal contract with this unseen publisher who will deduct our pay if we don’t produce. 🙂 One of my personal no-no’s is to actually write about blogging, so I kind of broke that here. But the cobwebs were forming in all cranial corners, so it was best to write this one as I did just to clean out the attic, so to speak. Glad you liked it.

      When one lives in Florida, you can’t have too many fans!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. As you know, I love randoms. There’s no chance to bore anyone. When celebrating NY’s Eve I’m always thinking “Crap, it’s tax season.” Our taxes got a lot easier after retirement and with the ability to download from the financial companies. It’s a lot less work than before. I’m a weird reader. I will read 6 books in two weeks, then not pick one up for 4 months or more. I have to manage my attention span these days and it’s getting shorter and shorter. Truth be told I was grateful when our local team lost during football playoffs because the tension in the house on Sundays was miserable. Does Valium come in a spray can? Where are my cookies?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was going to mention and link to your weekly random, Kate, but I think I’ve tagged you so many times already that it’s close to stalking! You’re right it really is easier to get the tax information from financial companies now. I remember in the old days the return could be held up for weeks because one stinkin’ 1099 was late.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. It must be a January thing. I have so many balls up in the air right now that I’m in serious danger getting crushed when they start crashing down.
    We too got Prime earlier this month and haven’t even looked at it yet. How sad is that? 😉

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Always on the lookout for a good read – although honestly there are about 30 books on my outstanding list right now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had this belief that once I retired I would do nothing but read. That pretty much did happen during my first year, but now I’m finding my attention span is seemingly overwhelmed. It’s still my number one goal, even if things like streaming TV gets in the way. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Nice post! I like Maroon 5, but I most look forward to Gladys Knight singing the national anthem! I am NOT a Patriots fan, so I’ll be for the Rams.

    I just added Pachinko to my reading list.

    Happy New Year to you and Gorgeous!!!


    1. We tried to watch Loch Ness, but one of us found some of the murder scenes a little too graphic. But maybe we can start it again with perhaps a stiff drink ahead of time? 😉 Thanks for the suggestion of Salt by Kurlansky. I will definitely put that on my my list. Thanks, Shannon!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Happy New Year, Marty! My take……the act of writing down and recommending the books you have on the go, listing the financial information you need to sort, recording the shows you want to watch, is actually organizing the disorganized rut. You are already ahead of the game. I plan to YouTube George Burns and Gracie Allen show tonight. Classic, quality humour and enduring, inspirational love. I like and need the good in this world. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I don’t even know where to start with this… I don’t read much and feel quite guilty about it. I’m a bit ADHD so it’s hard for me to sit still and read. I like books on tape though (I can be doing something else while listening!). Hubs and I are going to take his former admin (and his wife) out to dinner on Saturday as he is one of those unpaid 800,000. Hubs pension is still coming too, but honestly… I tweeted both of my senators multiple times yesterday (in answer to their tweets NOT about the shutdown) and called their offices. This is insanity! I’ve never binge watched anything – am I normal? I second TMMM rec. Super Bowl…next week the insanity hits Atlanta and the traffic will be even worse than ever! Good for business, crappy for residents. Some guy from NOLA has paid for billboards all over Atlanta saying the Saints Got Screwed. I like him! And seriously Marty? Even I know who Maroon 5 is! They are pretty good – give them a chance! No gym, but I run and haven’t noticed any more runners out. Wonder what that means. And finally, I can send you my address offline so you can ship me the promised cookies… I have milk.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, AGMA! Leave it to you to look for a loophole on the cookies and milk opportunity. Sorry to say that those cookies are gone, eaten, and otherwise consumed. Hey, you snooze, you lose around these parts. Benevolence apparently has time limits. But I promise, when the the next batch is made in these here parts, you get first dibs… or grabs, whichever is appropriate. Wait, maybe dibs is more appropriate these days. Language got complicated in the last couple of years.

      A friend of mine is a huge books on tape fan, so no judgments on that score. However one can consume information is fine by me. But seriously, try to get Pachinko because it’s really good.

      Ah, so your husband is a fellow fed too, huh? I don’t think I knew that. Solidary! You are both good eggs for taking his former co-worker and spouse out to dinner this week. That’s one less day they might stand in a food line (can you imagine?! Civil servants having to stand in bread lines? Did you see Wilbur Ross’ comment today about that? Unbelievable!). But I digress. Good on you also for contacting those senators. I’m hoping that this week there might be a breakthrough to a compromise. Maybe… hopefully… who knows?

      Okay, okay, okay. You got me on hyperbole; I do know who Maroon 5 are. Sort of. I mean, I’ve heard of them. But honestly? I couldn’t name a song they’ve ever recorded or sung. “You’re so Vain?” No, that was Carly. “Start Me Up?” No, that was the Stones. What can I say; I’m caught in my own time warp. Oh, wait… Adele! I do know Adele! Why can’t she perform instead of them? I actually like her, and she’s current! (Isn’t she?).

      Stay safe while running on those roads with all those visiting football fans there. We need your blog to stay sane in these turbulent times.


  9. Hey Marty, I am happy to hear that your new year is off to a good start. It is impressive that you are simultaneously hitting the treadmill and keeping up with CNBC. That investment savvy will be helpful in all the healthy years ahead.

    Liked by 1 person

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