Saturday, December 26, 2020

Happy Boxing Day - Happy Holidays 2020 Everyone


Happy Boxing Day December 26

Happy Holidays Everyone

Now as an American (US), we don't celebrate Boxing Day as they do in the UK and other places.

But I've always thought that we should. So for years I have celebrated the day on my own, in my own mind. 🀣

I used to say that in my life I lived in the US during the work day and then at night I lived in the UK in my mind, since I watch lots of British TV programs

Many in the US celebrate Kwanzaa (December 26 - January 1).  You can read about it at the link:

I became acquainted with Kwanzaa during my years as a weekend volunteer at the  museums.  If my volunteer weekend in late December happened to fall on Kwanzaa we would celebrate it with visitors, staff, and other volunteers. 

As a Cuban (Cuban-American) I grew up celebrating the holidays until January 6, Dia de Los Reyes Magos.

(Now, as a kid, I always received presents from both Santa Claus on December 25 and then the Three Kings on January 6)

This has been a solitary holiday season for many, myself included, because of COVID-19.  But we all know that it is the right thing to do, for our own health and the health of others.  

My two favorite actors favored us with unexpected gifts this Holiday Season

Photo by An Le

Richard Armitage with a lovely Audible Q&A. Below is a bit of the almost 30 minute interview:

Sean Bean as Mr. Wilford surprised us with a familiar, yet unexpected, holiday poem:


Happy Holidays to Richard and SeanπŸŽ„

Monday, December 21, 2020

New Year - New Audiobook Challenge 2021 - Listening Books (UK)


At the start of this year, 2020, I was looking for a new audiobook challenge for the year.  I was searching Facebook when I found the Listening Books 2020 Audiobook Challenge.  I am now listening (and reading also - for a great book club) my December challenge,  "A Christmas Carol" by Charles Dickens.  You can check my blog post of November 30 for more about this month's challenge.

I also tried the Listening Challenge from AudioFile magazine in 2019.

So I was pondering the next challenge late last week looking for a new 2021 audiobook listening challenge.  

I was happy to see a notification on FB this morning that Listening Books has posted a new challenge for 2021.  It's different from 2020's but looks interesting and I think I will try it.

Now I don't belong to Listening Books, a UK Audiobook Lending Charity. They have audiobooks for children and adult members that have "illness, physical, or mental, disabilities that affects their ability to read the printed word."(    

When I decided to join this year I asked if it was OK to do so since I'm in the US, and also would not qualify for membership. They explained that they had opened it to the public on FB in the hopes of learning about new audiobooks from a wider public so that they might then research for their members and add to their lending library.  

I really enjoyed their 2020 Audiobook Challenge.


If you would like to find out more about Listening Books and consider a donation to support their work you can do so at the link below:

They also have a podcast and a blog

Now for the Listening Books 2021 Audiobook Challenge:

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Armitage Inspiration - My Inheritance Tracks?

    • My Inheritance Track 1

Richard Armitage was on  BBC Radio 4  on December 12 and shared his Inheritance Tracks (See link below):

What are Inheritance Tracks?

"Inheritance Tracks Podcast. Celebrating the music that special guests cherish and would like to bestow to future generations."  BBC Radio 4

So it made me think.  If I had to select two pieces of music that I cherish and would like to bestow on future generations, what would they be?

I've chosen two:

La Comparsa by Ernesto Lecuona  

My Cuban side

My mother played the piano quite well after studying for many years, and until we emigrated to the US we always had a piano at home.  My favorite piece of the ones she would play most frequently was La Comparsa by Cuban composer Ernesto Lecuona.  

Comparsa:  a masked company of street dancers in Cuban carnival processions. Merriam-Webster

I feel the melancholy of a time lost forever when I listen to it now.

(see video at the top of the page and below)

Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin

My second choice reflects my US-American side.

The energy, vitality, heart, and promise of the US is what I feel whenever I hear it.

I also think of New York City.  A city I lived in for a bit when I was a child and still one of my favorite cities today.  

What are your inheritance tracks?

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Stages of Retirement - My First Retirement Snow Day

Photo from 2019 - Patch Staff

I'm watching the first snow of this winter season in my corner of the Mid-Atlantic US.

This is also my first snow as a retired person.  

You may be asking yourself why is that important?  Because if this snow was happening in a work morning pre-pandemic my feelings about it would be totally different.  

I would have set my alarm for 6am to check my employer's website to see if we were closed and had a snow day today.  If we had a snow day I would have gone back to bed.  If the website said we had a late opening, then I would watch the snow worried we would have a mix of snow and ice that would make commuting dangerous.  If my employer thought there wouldn't be any big snow accumulations and the office was open, then I would have gotten ready to clean my car and drive to work in fear as the snow came down.   

Snow looks pretty coming down, but I've never been comfortable driving in it.  In my neck of the woods we would have a couple of big snows most years (anything over 4 inches for us), but not enough to practice and know how to drive on slick roads.  

The difference this morning for me as a retired person is that I don't have to worry about it. I can just look at the lovely snow coming down and not worry.  

And because we're locked in at home for COVID-19 for our health at my age, I probably will wait for the snow to melt and just leave my car in the parking space.  Thanks to grocery deliveries I also don't have to worry about going to the store in the snow, as I used to.  It always helped to have a store I could walk to. 

I'm also lucky I live in an apartment building, so building maintenance will clear the entrances and sidewalk, and parking lot.  Though the plows throw the snow behind the parked cars and you end up having to clear a snow mountain.

Yes, I know I'm lucky that I was able to retire after 40 years in the workforce.  I'm grateful for that this year.  


Saturday, December 12, 2020

I Miss Going to the Movies


I was thinking the other day of how much I miss going to the movies at a movie theater.  There is nothing like sitting in a dark theater, together with fellow human beings, all experiencing the same film on the large screen in front.  Only in a darkened movie theater can you truly feel totally transported to another world.

Don't get me wrong.  I feel lucky to be able to watch wonderful movies from the safety of home thanks to Netflix, Amazon Prime, YouTube, and other streaming platforms.  And through them I've also been able to watch films that most movie theaters just don't show these days, even pre-pandemic, like some independent and international films.  But watching at home, on my own, surrounded by my things, and often distracted by my personal clutter - it's just not the same.  

I worry that the very few independently owned movie theaters left in my area in the age of the multiplex won't survive Covid-19.  They've  opened again after being closed when we were all on strict lockdown.  But despite their assurances that social distancing and disinfecting measure are being taken, I still don't feel safe going.  And I'm sure many share my fears.  I feel conflicted because I know they need their audiences to return in order to survive.

(Would I make an exception to watch Uncle Vanya with Richard Armitage on the big screen?  That depends.  We'll have to wait and see.)

I used to belong to a movie club that took met in one of these neighborhood independent movie theaters. I've watched movies and documentaries because of the club that I would have not discovered on my own. Indeed quite a few, several international ones, and the documentaries, never made it to a screen or even streaming, anywhere else. But that ended because of Covid-19.  I thought maybe they might decide to do it virtually, or find a way to do so. I understand though how difficult it has been, and is, for these smaller movie theaters to even survive.

I hold out hope that by the end of 2021 we'll still be able to go and watch movies on the big screen in the dark.


Patagonia Opens in Former Historic Old Town Theater 


Monday, November 30, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - December Audiobook


December Audiobook

The Audiobook Listening Challenge for December is a 
Seasonal Audiobook

My selection is A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Narrated by Simon Prebble

Below is a link to an interview with Simon Prebble on 
AudioFile Magazine

Monday, November 9, 2020

Goodbye Alex Trebek


I was so sad yesterday when I saw the news on Twitter that Alex Trebek had died.

Yes, all fans knew in the back of our minds that this was possibly coming soon.  But I think we all hoped he would beat this cancer and be around for many more years. So like any death of someone you care for, it still came as a shock.

I don't know how I will feel tonight when I turn on Jeopardy at dinner time to watch Alex and the contestants, knowing he is now gone.

I first started watching Jeopardy in the 70's with then host Art Fleming.  

I'm not someone that likes games or game shows usually.  As a matter of fact I watched no other game shows at the time, and I don't right now.  But Jeopardy was different. Whenever I was home from school and it was on I would watch it.  The game board was more primitive those days than the one we see now.  But the game then followed the same familiar pattern as the one today.  Art Fleming was the host until 1975.

Then in the 1980's (1984) Jeopardy was back with a new host, Alex Trebek.

Alex was wonderful.  He was smart, handsome, and elegant.  I was hooked on the show again.

What was also great was that in my viewing area Jeopardy was on around dinner time. Right now it airs Monday-Saturday at 7:30pm.  It was and is the perfect dinner time or after dinner time viewing.

For years I pondered whether to take the Jeopardy test to become a contestant.  These days my memory is not always so great, but in my younger days I had a great memory for all sorts of information and trivia.  I was very good at playing Jeopardy at home along with the contestants on TV.

As I said, I'm not a games person.  In the 80's and early 90's I used to play Trivial Pursuit at lunch time with my work colleagues. Though they beat me on questions about sports and cars, my strength was in questions about movies, TV, popular culture, history, art, etc.  Some of my co-workers, who also watched Jeopardy, started to try and encourage me to take the test to become a contestant. They were sure I would win.

But I never took the test.  I was afraid that being shy I would freeze in front of the cameras. I also feared that on my day I would get a sports category, and that would be deadly for me. But I was also worried about disappointing Alex Trebek.  

In the past 10 or so years I worked at a job that had later hours. So I rarely got home from work in time to watch Jeopardy and couldn't continue my "life long" habit.  But if I was home I never missed watching Jeopardy repeats on Saturdays at 7:30pm.

Then came the pandemic and I was sent to work from home in March 2020 and I could resume my pleasurable habit of watching Jeopardy at the end of the work day while I had dinner every night.  And then recently I retired and continued watching Monday through Saturday. 

I plan to continue watching tonight, through Alex Trebek's last show on December 25.  But it will be different starting tonight because I and all the Jeopardy viewers will know Alex is no longer with us.

Rest in Peace Alex Trebek

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - November Audiobook


The November Listening Book 
Audiobook Challenge is a 
Funny Audiobook

I have selected 
"No Cunning Plan"

The memoirs of Tony Robinson, narrated by Tony Robinson.

Rowan Atkinson and Tony Robinson

I first got to know Tony Robinson many years ago as Baldrick in the British comedy Blackadder. 

I've recently gotten to know him as presenter and narrator (and writer and many other things) in Time Team and also many other interesting documentary series.  

Time Team

Sir Tony Robinson

The book is described by Google Books as:

"Packed full of incident and insight, No Cunning Plan is a funny, self-deprecating and always entertaining memoir by Sir Tony Robinson."

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Stages of Retirement - Post Pandemic Wish List


I've been retired for several weeks now, I'm still waiting for the EXCITEMENT stage of retirement to kick in.  🀣

Maybe part of not feeling "excitement' is that retiring during a pandemic is somewhat restrictive.  As an older person I am very concerned about my danger of catching COVID, and so I keep myself to myself.   Though as an introvert I know that I've suffered less in many ways than others that have a need to be around people all the time, or are separated from family.  I am possibly in some circumstances what is known in some circles as an "elder orphan", and so I don't have family that I miss interacting with on a daily basis.  I do have family that I see on major holidays, and that too will probably not happen this year. 

But being an introvert doesn't mean I don't miss friends or having a social life. I miss going to the movies, museums, and the theater. Though, like my favorite actor Richard Armitage recently said in an interview, I too prefer socializing one-on one or in small groups.  

I don't have a travel "bucket list", but when I was contemplating retirement this year, I did have in my mind certain things I wanted to do now that I would have the time. Also there are a number of senior discount programs and also community centers in the area that offer all kinds of programs for seniors. But the pandemic has restricted what I can do in person. Also many of these activities are cancelled for the foreseeable future. So I've decided to put together a post-pandemic wish list of fun things to do.

(in no particular order)

I'll also add a note to the list items and add some virtual things I'm doing from home.  

Post-Pandemic Wish List

1.     Audit a class at the Community College

(Note:  I've signed up for a couple of online classes (free) and lectures.  History, art, and literature, film history, are my main interests. There are various organizations that offer classes and lectures online for free. I've taken classes before from Futurelearn and Coursera from universities around the world.)

2.     Visit a museum once a month

(Note:  I live in a museum rich area.  Museums around the world are now offering access to exhibits and different learning opportunities online.  Not all are free, but many are.  I haven't looked into this yet, but I will.)

3.     Take a day trip every couple of months - community centers offer these

(Note:  Definitely for post-pandemic)

4.     Take advantage of senior movie matinee discount days offered by local movie theaters.

(Note: Another one for post-pandemic, if any movie theaters are still in business by then.)

5.     Take advantage of senior matinee discounts in local theaters - live theater

(Note:  Most theaters in my area, have senior discounts. There's a well known regional theater near me I was planning to frequent.  Another item for post-pandemic.)

6.     Volunteer  

(Note:  I was looking into this before I retired, something that was only once a week or every two weeks, but now will be post-pandemic.)

7.     Join a book club at one of my local libraries

(Note:   Living in a metro area I have access to several library systems. All of them have book clubs especially geared for seniors that meet during the day.  Some have moved the club meetings online, but for an introvert meeting people for the first time virtually is a bit daunting.  Maybe move this to post-pandemic.)

8.     Explore my local parks and gardens

(Note:  I have been doing this for a couple of weeks and it's been fun.  One of those things I didn't think much about when I was working.  Good places to walk and explore nature a little bit a few times a week. I even saw a woodpecker up close the other day.)

9.     Take a Tai Chi class

(Note: I found a beginning class for seniors on YT and have tuned in once a week. But I do get a bit lost I will admit.  I've heard Tai Chi is good for balance and other aches and pains as we age.  But of course all the live classes at the community center are cancelled at present.)

 10.    Take a Jewelry-Making class

(Note:  I have absolutely no aptitude for this, and have never been a crafts person, but I'm a jewelry lover, especially art jewelry.  So I thought in retirement I might try my hand at taking a class for fun.  I discovered there are jewelry making classes online, but I think I'll wait for post-pandemic, since part of the idea is to be with other people.)

Will I do all of these things?  Now that is the question.  

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Sean Bean Looking Good as Mr. Wilford in Snowpiercer


Just released the new promo for Season 2 of Snowpiercer on TNT

 Season Premiere January 25, 2021

Gives me time to catch up with Season 1.  I've only watched half of it.  But now I'm energized to watch the rest.  

I haven't watched the film - maybe I will as well

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - October Audiobook - Update October 2, 2020 - Second Update - October 7

October 7 -  Those of you that follow Armitage news on Twitter and Facebook already know that both of the Christie books narrated by Richard have now suddenly and mysteriously appeared in Audible Plus.

Initially it seemed purchasing the audiobooks was not a possibility.  Thanks to other Armitage fans with the same problem, the solution seemed to be to uninstall and then install the Audible App on your phone or tablet.  I unfortunately was able to purchase only Book #2 since I made the mistake of adding Book #1 to my library and downloading it on my tablet before I knew the trick. Very weird all around by Audible.

Why purchase the books since they are "free" on Audible Plus?  Because on Audible Plus they have an expiration date.  It's like borrowing from a library, except you are paying for your membership. I don't really understand how Audible Plus is a good business  move for Audible?  I'm missing something.

Anyway,  I'm now happy to have the two books back with Richard Armitage narrating and have started to listen to Book #1, The Mysterious Affair at Styles.  



October Audiobook Challenge 

An Audiobook Narrated by a Famous Narrator

My Choice 
Two audiobooks narrated by my favorite narrator


I have been waiting for the October challenge since I started this in January.  I was really hoping Richard would have one new audiobook out just in time.  Imagine how happy I was to find out he would have two books out on October 6.

Both books, The Mysterious Affair at Styles and The Murder on the Links are Book #1 and #2 of the Hercule Poirot series by Agatha Christie.  

The release of both books this October commemorate 100 Years of Agatha Christie Stories: 

As a mystery lover, Agatha Christie reader, and admirer of Richard Armitage I am very much looking forward to listening to both books in October.

Thank you Audible.


Another wonderful thing about the October Audiobook Challenge is that Listening Books has selected an audiobook narrated by Richard Armitage as one of their "October Listening Challenge - Listen to a Book With a Famous Narrator" suggestions:

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

Click below to find out more about this audiobook:

"Richard Armitage turns in a stellar performance of the lovelorn and hasty hero of Heyer's Regency romance. Even better, Armitage creates wonderful voices for the female characters--from the stern society matrons to the giddy debutantes. Armitage moves the narrative along at a breezy, gossipy pace that is perfectly suited to the novel's action and scene descriptions..." 
"The charm of Heyer's characters and Armitage's skillful performance will have the listener longing for more." R.F. (c) AudioFile 2009, Portland, Maine

Update October 2, 2020

So today I received a mysterious email from Audible (see below) and contacting them today they can't tell me what has happened, or even when the two audiobooks, scheduled for October 6, will be published.  

Below is their email:


We have good news for you. The Agatha Christie title(s) you pre-ordered will now be available in the Audible Plus Catalog on their release day. That means they will be available for free. With that, we are canceling your pre-order, you won’t be charged.

Remember, you can keep your Audible Plus titles for as long as your membership is active and they remain in the Audible Plus Catalog. If you’d like to keep them forever in your library, you may purchase them on the day they become available.

Don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions you might have.

Happy Listening!
The Audible Team

10:34pm -
Another message from Audible tonight.  The two audiobooks have been "postponed indefinitely" 

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Stages of Retirement - What Stage Am I In?


I  found out today that researcher Robert Atchley identified the stages of retirement:

Stage 1: Planning. ...

Stage 2: Excitement. ...

Stage 3: Honeymoon. ...

Stage 4: Disenchantment. ...

Stage 5: Reorientation & Stability. ...

I am at the final stages of Stage 1 Planning and waiting to feel the Excitement of Stage 2 soon, very soon.  

What a strange time to retire.  I can't pursue several activities that I had planned in my mind that I could start at this moment.  Right now the pandemic makes going out in the world a dangerous act.  

To be truthful I feel more relief than excitement right now. Maybe there should be an interim stage between Planning and Excitement. 

Stage 1.5: Relief.

At this stage in my life I know several people, family, friends, and colleagues, who have reached retirement before I have. I get a mixed bag of advise from them.  A mixed bag of feelings too.  What different stages are they in at the moment?  

I'll have to see as I progress through the early days and months of retirement if I can relate to the five stages. 


I'm still filling out forms, seeking guidance, making decisions, trying to put things in motion, so that I can finally feel, several days from today, that I am RETIRED.

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Richard Armitage Introduces Us to Ken Follet's New Book


Richard Armitage greeted us today with a lovely video introducing Ken Follet's new book The Evening and The Morning. 

So good to see his handsome face. 

Research by several RA fans found out Richard is not narrating this book.  I wish he was.  But Richard gives us the news that he's working with Follet as a TV/film producer for one of his books, though he doesn't tell us much more.  

Searching on Audible I found that John Lee is the narrator of the book.  Lee is a very good narrator.  I know and enjoy his work, especially Philip Kerr's Bernie Gunther series.

Still,  I would prefer if Richard Armitage was the narrator.  I would certainly buy the audiobook if that was the case.  

So, is Richard producing The Man from St. Petersburg for TV or film?  Or a different Follet book?

Saturday, September 5, 2020

Audiobook Challenge 2020 - September Audiobook

September Audiobook Challenge is

An Audiobook of a Classic Novel

My selection is Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte
Narrated by Emilia Fox

When I was a teenager the Bronte sisters were my favorite authors.   And my favorite book of the Bronte's was, and still is, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte.

But I've never read Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte and I thought this was the perfect opportunity to do so with the Listening Books Audiobook Challenge.

In September I will have a second classic to listen to.

I never read the tales of Beatrix Potter when I was a child. I'm looking forward to the audiobook,  

Friday, September 4, 2020


Richard also tweeted the following - good news for those of us outside of the UK:

 Feels so glorious to have Armitage fans excited and looking forward to seeing this production on screen.  


One other bit of news in the announcement, Roger Allam replaced Ciaran Hinds in the production.  I'm a fan of both actors. But we can be happy that Roger Allam is a great actor and it's good news for fans of Endeavour.

Thank you Richard and all the Cast and Crew

Saturday, August 29, 2020

More Sharpe Tales from History Hack - Yes, Even Paul McGann

Paul McGann as Richard Sharpe

If you are a fan of the Sharpe TV series and haven't been listening to the History Hack Podcasts featuring the cast,crew, and producers of the series, what are you waiting for?

In the latest podcast the unimaginable happens. Paul McGann talks about what really happened on the Sharpe set, and about his injury that led Sean Bean to replace him as Richard Sharpe. Did any Sharpe fan ever expect to hear directly from Paul McGann!!!!

I listened last night and at the end I was even missing this:

Now all Sharpe fans know some of the story of how Sean Bean ended up as Sharpe, but there was a lot that I didn't know. It was a pleasure to listen to Paul McGann.  

(I confess I have a soft spot for his brother, Stephen McGann)

In addition in this podcast we get Brian Cox unplugged, telling it like it is, or was. 

I may have to sign up for HBO again to watch Succession. 

I wish we had more from the Wellingtons, Hugh Fraser and David Troughton.  Maybe they'll come back in the next podcast to share more.  And I felt we needed more about the real Wellington from the historians on the podcast, but there just wasn't time.

It was also interesting to hear Assumpta Serna's stories about the
women in the cast of the very male-centric set of Sharpe. Why do women always have to struggle to be heard! And also representing Spain's side of the Peninsular War/Spanish War of Independence.  

(I know the feeling of being sidelined in history, the Spanish American War is part of the Cuban War of Independence.)

History Hack and Jason Salkey have promised more Sharpe cast and crew podcasts in our future. 

Oh yes, of course, I can't end this post without a reminder that Jason Salkey's book, From Crimea with Love, is getting closer to publication. 

To find the other great History Hack Sharpe Podcasts click HERE

Friday, August 21, 2020




Looking wonderful at 49
August 22, 2020

I love listening to Richard's audiobooks. We've had a wealth of his voice narrating/performing a wide range of audiobooks.  And more to look forward to already in September and October.  Thank you Richard and Audible and the publishers, and oh yes, the writers.

Looking forward to the two new movie projects that have been announced for the new year. I admit that I miss seeing his face on my screen, in a movie or TV series.

As long as the filming can be done safely in this Covid-19 world.

Looking forward to Space Sweepers
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