Sunday, March 16, 2014

Weekends and Couple Time . . .


One of our most enjoyable habits as a couple, something that has only developed in the last 15 or so years, is that I read to Paul during road trips (only when he's driving; not so much during my turns at the wheel, you'll be glad to know) and while he cooks.
I too often come home from work just wanting to be fed and left alone, although I do try at least to find TV shows or movies we enjoy watching together. But on Thursdays I only teach one class, and I finish early enough to get home before the blood sugar crash. This past Thursday, I was tempted to take my pre-dinner glass of white into my study and watch an episode of The Good Wife. But given that Pater was making gnocchi, that didn't seem quite right.
Instead, I snuggled up to the island counter with Hart Massey's 1980s memoir of travelling through France in a restored, converted iron barge. We generally find that good travel writing is best for this kind of reading: it's richly imagistic, often filled with humour, the exploits entertaining yet delivering a decent sense of history, geography, and local character. And if we get so busy that the book doesn't get picked up again for weeks, even months, it's easy enough to pick up without worrying that we've lost the plot.
We're especially enjoying this book, as we did its predecessor detailing Massey and his wife's earlier adventures, because we were allowed to bring them home from the wonderfully stocked shelved of "our" beloved home away from home in Bordeaux.
The weekend itself, spent in Vancouver, has been a bit more hectic. . . Dinner out Friday night with an old friend, recently remet to mutual delight. Saturday a long run with my sister, followed by a hearty breakfast out, joined by another sister. Saturday evening we enjoyied a quiet meal together and got to bed early in preparation for a busy and not too quiet week: today, we're picking up Nola tomorrow along with my twin 13-year old nieces. We're bringing them back to the island with us while they're on Spring Break. Should be fun times and perhaps a smidgen of fatigue . . .
Now tell me, do any of you enjoy reading aloud? To your spouse or partner? Or do you enjoy being read to? Or is the pleasure of reading found, for you, in its promise of solitude? I'd also be curious to know what other ways you've found of spending time together companionably when one or both of you is/are too depleted to keep a conversation going

22 comments:

  1. What a lovely idea, reading aloud. I'll sometimes read passages of something I find particularly interesting or funny to monsieur, but of short duration. Gnocci...yum!! Have a wonderful time with the kiddos!

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    1. We're having a good time with the youngsters, yes! and the gnocchi was dlish . . .

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  2. I love reading aloud as I did it for much of my working life. I am thinking of volunteering to read to seniors when I have settled back at home. Monsieur and I are very different but we do watch Netfix together. I need alone time every day to read, write or cogitate.Have fun with your visitors.

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    1. It's a different pleasure than reading silently to oneself, isn't it? I bet there would be seniors who would really enjoy that!

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  3. We have not read aloud to each other before but the habit sounds quite lovely. I am bustling about in the kitchen when my husband gets home from work. When dinner is under control we sit with a glass of wine (for me) and a scotch (for him) and discuss our day. It is so refreshing to see a man enjoying being creative in the kitchen. You are very lucky that Pater enjoys cooking!
    I hope you have a fun filled week with those guests. There will be great memories made on their adventure on your wee island.

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    1. I'm lucky indeed! And that he does most of the provisioning as well. . . the least I can do is read to him, right?

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  4. Since I do all the driving (hubs driving is terrifying) he reads aloud to me on long road trips. It's a lot of fun and leads to many interesting conversations. You are so lucky Pater enjoys cooking! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. xoJennifer

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    1. It was a good weekend, although there was no more reading aloud. Glad to hear of someone else who shares the habit (although I always wonder if I could be as good a listener. . . )

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  5. It's funny you should mention this Mater - I just started this a while ago. On weekend mornings we usually sit in bed with a cup of tea and chat, but recently I started reading the book Drop Dead Healthy - I'd left it on my husband's night table but he hadn't yet cracked it open. Just this past weekend I read out parts of Pierre Trudeau's memoirs as we drove to and from Ottawa. I like how it opens up further conversation (not that we usually have trouble any trouble with that!).

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    1. Another one hooked! It is a good habit/technique for opening conversation in interesting ways, isn't it? Trudeau's memoirs would lead down all kinds of possible paths -- you might want also to read Douglas Gibson's account of editing that work -- in his Stories about Storytellers, fascinating!

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  6. My husband and I love travel books too...and reading out loud. We especially love Bill Bryson's books. We read In A Sunburned Country before a trip to Australia and even took the book with us. We'd drive through areas that Bryson had visited and I'd read passages of the book out loud. I remember driving past a rather ramshackle building on the Great Alpine Road (I think) in Victoria and shouting to my husband..."Stop, stop. It's the Giant Worm place!!" We still giggle about that experience which we would never have had without Bryson's book.
    I always keep a trip journal and it's become our custom to relax with a glass of wine each evening while I read my daily jottings out loud.
    I'll have to watch out for Massey's books.

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    1. What a great example! And I love that you read your own travel musings out loud to round out each day. I often try to bring some along from past years, if we're re-visiting, to remember details, find places we liked, and to read general impressions and compare to present.
      Hart Massey's books are out of print, I think, but on sale used and probably to be found in many libraries. Very enjoyable.

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  7. You've just given me a wonderful idea! We have along road trip planned as part of our summer vacation this year. It's the first time we're attempting it with the kids, who are now 7 and 5. Maybe I can read to them while hubby is driving. Perhaps a longer chapter book such as Harry Potter to pass the time and keep them engaged (in between stints playing games on the iPad I suppose). Would love some other book ideas from a literary lady like yourself! Thanks! -- Hope

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    1. I loved reading "chapter books" to my kids on road trips. Tolkien, eventually, and some Harry Potter for the younger ones, but back in the day, some classics like Five Children and It (wonder if today's kids could enjoy it; mine did despite the datedness), Charlotte's Web, Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, Harriet the Spy, Philip Pullman's Dark Materials. . . can't remember them all but what a delight that was. We did a number of 2-day 20-hour drives and this was pre in-car entertainment systems or any tablets at all . . . Have fun planning a reading list!

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    2. Thanks so much for the recommendations! I can't believe I'm now actually looking forward to a long road trip with two rambunctious kids! Who would have thought?! We're doing exactly what you described, a long drive split up over two days.

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    3. You'll have to report back! ;-)

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  8. He does most of the driving. I read out loud then and sometimes in the evening, in bed, before going to sleep. The Massey books sound like something we'd like to read.

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    1. I think you'd enjoy the Massey books -- Hart and his wife were about our age, perhaps a bit older, when they undertook those travels. Paul marvels at the difficulties he manages with aplomb, with self-deprecating humour, disguising his own impressive competence. . . . try a library as the most likely source.

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  9. George did most of the driving, while he could drive. And I would read aloud while he drove. When my voice got tired I would knit a bit and then I would read some more. Sometimes we would spend a companionable Sunday drinking coffee and reading to each other from whatever we happened to be enjoying.

    Sometimes George would sing me songs in bed, before going to sleep. I would read or recite poems.

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    1. You had such a rich relationship -- you must miss him very much. That easy intimate companionship, never boring. . .

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  10. Love good travel writing, especially Paul Theroux. As for barge travel- such a lovely way to travel in France. A few years ago we chartered a barge, just another couple and us and had a very leisurely cruise on the canals in Burgundy. We covered just a few miles a day, provisioning as we went in the lovely market towns. The barge came equipped with bicycles and the tow paths were perfect for cycling. The locks and lines were not a problem and it was a delight dealing with the lock keepers. One even recommended a restaurant where we had one of the most memorable French lunches ever. Great memories.

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    1. It does sound idyllic, and the pace would suit me very well, Massey and his wife owned their barge, though, and the upkeep was continual and often challenging. As well, his travels included some considerably more challenging rivers, locks, canals, and ports. Wonderful reading!

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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