From mid-June to mid-July, my commute goes from 25+ minutes each way to about 7 minutes each way because of a lovely blessing I like to call The Magic House, where I housesit every summer. It’s a good thing for me for many reasons, including the wonderful little deck where I can spend hours reading & watching clouds go by. In fact, I’m sitting on the deck right now as I write, watching the sun drift down and enjoying the cool of the evening, surrounded by lovely potted flowers.

The only downside from this is that I spend a lot less time in the car, and therefore a lot less time listening to podcasts. Thus, my “listening” section of W/R/L is really condensed (if not gone completely). Still, there’s a bit to report in the Watched and Read sections, so I’ll share a bit of that from the final two weeks of June.

WATCHED

Riverdale.  This show was on my “maybe check out” from this past TV season, but I never managed to put the premiere on the DVR. What made me check it out finally? It was on Netflix on a night I needed some brain candy, and the next thing I knew I had watched three episodes, and very nearly went for the fourth until I realized how late it was AND that I really wanted my wife to try it. That was Tuesday night. We’d finished the whole thing by the following Monday. (It helped that the weather wasn’t super great that weekend.)

Why do I like it? My friend asked me the other day, and it’s hard to articulate exactly what it is – as my friend Richard says, it’s not like the acting is spectacular or the plots are mind-blowing (some of the plotlines very disappointingly dropped the ball.) Honestly, I think it’s simply that it’s excellent brain candy that tantalizes with a few intriguing plot twists, some slow character development and Cole Sprouse.

House of Cards. 5 seasons of House of Cards, lots of buzz about it, and I had never checked it out. But my brother-in-law loves it, so we thought we’d give it a try. We’ve finished nine episodes of Season 1. I’m enjoying it, but it’s so dark & twisty that it’s hard to bingewatch it without getting down (which was my fear and why I never watched it.) Still, I think the acting is phenomenal and the plotlines are fantastic, so I know I’ll go back to it.

Harry Potter Weekend. Because it doesn’t matter how many times I’ve seen the films or that I own most of them, I will still watch them on Freeform, even though they are just a vehicle for commercials for various Freeform premieres.

The Great British Baking Show, Season 4. As I’m writing this, I realize that you, dear reader, have no idea of my obsession with this show. When I am sad, I watch Baking. When I am happy, I watch Baking. I own all of the seasons and binge-rewatch them regularly. And so, with the new series that debuted in June, I am all about the Baking. If you’ve not seen it, do give it a try. Go back and watch old seasons. Watch the magic of a competition show where people are exceedingly nice to one another, where they even HELP each other, where the judges do not rant, rave or insult, where you grow to love the participants, and the hosts are full of wonderful jokes and sheer kindness. I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s my happy place.

Beauty and the Beast (2017). FINALLY. I really should have seen this in the theater, but I’m no good at going to the movies. It was fantastic. Really enjoyed Emma Watson and Dan Stevens. Heck, I enjoyed everything, which surprised me a bit, because I get twitchy about hearing songs that I know really well sung differently. I think I might like this version even better than the original.

READ

My fiction reading was The Invisible Library, billed as Doctor Who meets Librarian Spies. Totally my thing! Unfortunately, while the premise is pretty great, it appears to suffer from what I like to call George RR Martin syndrome, aka “Here’s an awesome idea! Here’s another! And another! Wouldn’t it be cool if?” until the story is a tangled web. Sigh.

I read a couple of great non-fiction blogs and magazine articles, too. Two are columns in the latest O (Oprah) Magazine.

Martha Beck, Food of the Gods (6 Things You Need to Do to Feed Your Soul).  When it comes to diets, you’ll get lots of advice. Some people swear by Whole30. Some swear by Paleo. Some say staying gluten-free changed their lives. Your mileage may vary, but one thing that’s absolutely true: you need to find what works for your body to help it be the healthiest it can be. The same is true of spiritual practices. Ask ten people what helps them be the best person they can be, and you’re likely to get ten different answers, from prayer to yoga to singing. Some find Buddhist principles nourishing, others prefer traditional Christian prayer like the Daily Office. Beck offers six ideas for finding practices that nourish you – and you might be surprised by what she suggests. (If you find her article intriguing, I encourage you to check out my friend Meredith Gould‘s outstanding book Desperately Seeking Spirituality: A Field Guide to Practice.)