My at-home, no-writing retreat went something like this:
Reading: Alternated between At Home by Bill Bryson (I swear the man cannot write a dull sentence!); Cross Creek by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (I can see why some her neighbors were a bit upset with her characterizations of them); As We Were by E.F. Benson (a fascinating look at his famous family and Victorian England); and Booknotes - America's Finest Authors on Reading, Writing, and the Power of Ideas with Brian Lamb (so many wonderful things to learn). I finished up The Bedside Guardian 1978-79 and a thriller, Chasing the Storm, by Martin Molsted. Also, began the third of Ann Bridge's Julia Probyn adventures, The Numbered Account. This one finds the irrepressible Ms. Probyn in Switzerland.
Cataloging: I got twenty-one books cataloged (two cards each) before I ran out of index cards. Creating a card catalog of books from my family's collection and my own purchases of vintage books is proving to be a delightful and worthwhile project.
Watching: OK, I broke my own rule about not turning on any screens. I watched four Booknotes programs on my computer that are available on the C-SPAN website: David McCullough on Truman; Rick Bragg on Somebody Told Me - The Newspaper Stories of Rick Bragg; Nicholas Basbanes on A Gentle Madness; and Simon Winchester on The Professor and the Madman about the making of the Oxford English Dictionary. I think I would follow Mr. Winchester just about anywhere. He is so entertaining!
Because I could listen to David McCullough talk for hours, I also watched a two-part interview that he did with Brian Lamb on the C-SPAN program Q&A. He discussed his book The Greater Journey about American artists, writers, sculptors and medical students who went to Paris between 1830 and 1900. They went not only to learn and further their own knowledge and careers, but also to bring that knowledge back to America. I read this terrific book last year and wrote about it here.
Mr. McCullough is so enthusiastic about his subjects. His eyes just sparkle! I have owned his biography of President Harry Truman for years and after listening to Mr. McCullough sing his praises, I will soon be pulling the book down from the shelf to begin. It is about one thousand pages in length so it will take me a while to finish, but I do believe it will be well worth my time.
Napping: Many naps and such a luxury.
Walking: The weather was almost balmy and my daily walks were a pleasant activity after being indoors doing all of the above.
I also did a bit of decluttering and wrote a few notes and letters. And there was time spent just staring into space. A nice little rest for the mind.
The oatmeal/cranberry cookies I had with tea were delicious and are now, sadly, all gone.
It really was a fine four days. It was so nice not to think, "What do I have to do now" and instead get to wonder, "What do I want to do now." I will certainly be planning more retreats like this one.
How did you spend the past few days?