What Nichole read in 2017

I’d set a goal of reading 45 books this year, and I only made it to 34. I was determined to finish “John Quincy Adams” this year, and I did it. But it was a slog and I had to stop reading other things to do it. I’m going to aim for 40 in 2018.

I didn’t know much about Trevor Noah other than that he’d taken over at “The Daily Show,” so I wasn’t really interested when I saw he’d written a biography. But then I was out of things to read and “Born a Crime” was available as a digital download from the library, so I figured I’d try it. I’m glad I did. It ended up being my favorite read of the year.

Once again, many thanks to the good folks at Goodreads for tabulating all of this for me.

I still don’t get Bergman films

I didn’t exactly shine as a student in high school. I was pretty average, and my general policy was to put in the least amount of effort that would get me a B or better. So I’m not sure how I tumbled into being friends with the Straight-A Smart Kids crowd, but tumble I did and that’s how I first heard Paul Simon’s “Rene and Georgette Magritte With Their Dog After The War.”

“Rene and Georgette Magritte with their dog, Brussels 1967.” (Lothar Wolleh)
My high school friend Beau is probably the smartest person I’ve ever known. He took math and science classes at the nearest university when we were in middle school, and now he researches philosophy and metaphysics at Oxford. Something of an unusual career path for a kid from rural western North Carolina.

When we were in high school he’d invite friends over to watch Ingmar Bergman and Stanley Kubrick movies and then he and Rockford would discuss them and I’d pretend I knew what they were talking about. Beau tried to make sure his friends were always expanding their horizons, and when he learned that I loved “Graceland” but hadn’t heard “Hearts and Bones,” he put on the CD.

I didn’t love Bergman or Kubrick so much, but “Rene and Georgette” had me at hello and is still one of my favorite songs. It was inspired by a couple of photos of the artist, his wife and their dog taken in Belgium in the late ’60s, and Rolling Stones think it’s one of Paul Simon’s best songs. I agree. I love the image of Rene and Georgette dancing alone in their living room to The Orioles and The Five Satins, and I love the little echoes of doo-wop in the song. I’ve always wondered, though — and before you judge me for wondering this, please know that I also judge myself because it’s pretty dumb thought — could it be, possibly, that the dog’s name is After The War?

That doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility for Magritte, but it’s probably not the case. If I ever get a dog, though, I’ll consider naming it Après La Guerre, and I’ll call it Gary for short, and I’ll sing Paul Simon songs to it all the time.

What we’re eating as the snow melts

I am always pleased to have a Saturday totally free of obligations on the schedule, so I was already looking forward to last weekend. And then the weather folk said “You’re going to get a light dusting of snow!” and I was pleased because I like a light dusting of snow.” Then they said “You’re going to get 2-4 inches of snow!” and I was OK with that because the kids like to tromp around in a bit of snow.” And Thursday night they said, “Uh, you’re going to get a lot of snow. Like, 8 inches maybe? Or 12? We have no idea, really. Just get some bread and milk and plan to stay home.” And I was back to being thrilled because (a) Rockford managed to get home from Minneapolis just before the storm hit and (b) I love planning to stay home.

So we had a cold, stay-at-home weekend, with a good number of snowball fights and several naps while binge-watching “The Crown” and one nice-sized snowman, and we ended up with just over 10 inches of snow.

Monday: Hawaiian Meatballs
“What was that thing you used to make with green peppers and pineapple?” Rockford asked.

“Ummmmmmm,” I said. “Sounds like it could be a sweet-and-sour something?”

“No,” he said. “I think it was meatballs.”

And so it was. I last made this Pioneer Woman recipe something like 4 years ago.

Tuesday: Pizza, perhaps

Wednesday: Breakfast For Dinner
Last week’s tap-dancing class was equal parts amusing and confusing. I really should practice the steps we attempted to learn before Wednesday so I have some hope of keeping up. Regardless, Rockford will be at home making waffles for the kids.

Thursday: Sandwiches
It’s STAR WARS DAY! So we’ll have some sandwiches before we go see the movie.

Friday: Soy-Glazed Pork
This was overly salty the last time I made it, so this time I’m going to make my own black bean paste so I can cut down on the sodium a bit. I hope it works.

Hungry for more? Check out the Menu Plan Monday linkup at OrgJunkie.