I’m guessing ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ will do me in

Every now and then I start feeling like my education is lacking, so I launch a reading project. Like that time I decided to read all of the Modern Library’s top 100 books and then only read (I think) 5 of them because they were so depressing.

Well, folks, we’ve entered another of those Every Now and Thens.

This time I’m working off the Great Books list in Susan Wise Bauer’s “The Well-Educated Mind.” They’re all books I probably should have read at some point in high school or college. They’re also all books I’ve never read. It should only take me ten or twenty years to read them all.

Picasso's sketch of Don Quixote, 1955
  • Don Quixote,” Miguel de Cervantes
  • The Pilgrim’s Progress,” John Bunyan
  • Gulliver’s Travels,” Jonathan Swift
  • Pride and Prejudice,” Jane Austen
  • Oliver Twist,” Charles Dickens
  • Jane Eyre,” Charlotte Bronte
  • The Scarlet Letter,” Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Uncle Tom’s Cabin,” Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • Madame Bovary,” Gustave Flaubert
  • Crime and Punishment,” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
  • Anna Karenina,” Leo Tolstoy
  • The Return of the Native,” Thomas Hardy
  • The Portrait of a Lady,” Henry James
  • Huckleberry Finn,” Mark Twain
  • I started “Don Quixote” a few weeks ago, and it is making me feel like a big doofus. From what I gather, this is the First Novel Ever and it is Very Funny and also Wonderful. I’m only on Chapter 19, but I’m just not that into it. Don Quixote seems like a big jerk, and there’s enough scatological humor to launch a Johnny Knoxville franchise.

    I’m hoping things will change soon in the next one billion pages. (Seriously. I had no idea how long this book was.)

    The problem with vacation is that it always ends

    We took an exceptionally nice little vacation last week.

    The kids stayed up way past their bedtimes every night watching basketball with Rockford. Meanwhile, I fell asleep at 8 one night. Amusement parks wear me out.

    Pete and I rode the log flume twice. He loved it the first time, when he couldn’t see what was happening. We were in the front the second time. He did not love that. I did, though, which leads us to this:

    I rode a roller coaster for the first time in 17 years. The log flume emboldened me. I opened my eyes once and only once, just long enough to see that we were about to go through yet another loop-de-loop. I practiced deep breathing for the full one minute and 48 seconds.

    I’m pretty sure the family is in agreement that our favorite ride was the “river rampage.” We rode it six times and were thoroughly soaked. The glee on Pete and Poppy’s faces when Rockford and I got doused was absolutely worth it.

    Like I said, it was an exceptionally nice couple of days. Then almost as soon as we got home, we were out the door again to go to a baseball game. Thus extending the exceptional niceness a little bit farther.

    I think I may have left my brain on vacation, though. I had a very hard time focusing on this week’s menu.

    Monday: Mac & cheese

    Rockford has a work dinner, which makes it Kids’ Choice Night. And their choice is almost always mac & cheese.

    Tuesday: Grilled chicken

    Combine one bottle of Italian dressing, some chicken breasts and a grill, and you’ll have a yummy dinner.

    Wednesday: Spaghetti

    I made spaghetti with meat sauce one night last week. Rockford must’ve really liked it, because he requested it again this week.

    Thursday: MIL’s Choice

    We’re going to my in-laws’ for dinner. Whatever she makes will be wonderful, as usual.

    Since last we spoke

    • We joined the YMCA. The kids love it there, which I’m hoping will be an extra incentive for me to start exercising again.
    • The children continue to have conversations I don’t understand. Par example:
      “There’s three babies in here!”
      “No there aren’t. It’s just an illusion.”
    • I started reading “Don Quixote.” It’s a slog, so far.
    • We’ve been doing some light gardening. I’m going to need to do some heavy gardening to get all of the flower beds into shape.
    • We’ve painted with toy cars.
    • I’ve lost to Poppy in tetherball three times.