Taking Emily Freeman’s lead to share a handful of things I learned this month, from the (occasionally) significant to the (mostly) shallow.
1. There’s a mailbox in North Carolina called the Kindred Spirit.
On Sunset Beach there’s a mailbox in the sand filled with journals, with a bench nearby where visitors can sit and write their hopes, dreams, and fears inside. If you like the sound of this, I’ve got a book for you.
Could there ever be a better name for a mailbox?
2. Mahonia is a real plant.
My favorite plant store in Louisville is called Mahonia, and I always thought it was just a pretty name—until I stumbled upon a photo and description in a gardening book! Turns out it’s an evergreen shrub with spiky yellow flowers.
3. Start bacon in a cold oven.
When we want to delight our children, Will and I make bacon on weekend mornings. Thanks to my friend Bri, I tried a different method this month: instead of preheating like I usually do, I started the bacon in a cold oven. When Bri said this method would make the bacon flat and crispy, I was skeptical—but I’m shocked at what a big difference it makes!
She explains more in this recipe. I haven’t tried the sweet potato toasts yet but I’m intrigued.
4. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” is a Queen song.
Last weekend I saw Bohemian Rhapsody, the new film about Queen and Freddie Mercury. I wasn’t terribly interested, but watched it with friends right before the Oscars. WOW. Have you ever read a book and thought, I had no idea that topic would be interesting but I’m so glad I read this? That’s how I felt about Bohemian Rhapsody.
The movie portrays Queen’s formation and rise to fame, and features more than twenty Queen songs. I knew the songs but had no idea they were Queen songs, including one of my longtime favorites, “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”, written by Freddie Mercury. Did everyone know this but me?
It’s been covered hundreds of times over the years, by performers like Robert Plant, Diana Ross, Michael Bublé, and symphony orchestras aplenty. My first introduction to the song, and still-favorite version, is by country singer Dwight Yoakam, and a million years ago there was a fantastic Gap commercial with it. (Doesn’t that dance look fun? I want to learn how.)
5. Publishing infrastructure has changed a lot in the last 5-10 years.
My book I’d Rather Be Reading was briefly out of stock just after its September 4 release, and at the time I didn’t realize that this inconvenience was related to broader industry happenings. The actual story is more complicated, and more interesting.
It turns out that the book industry has significantly changed over the last decade, and one of the big factors impacting today’s new print books is paper. Actual, physical paper. It’s in short supply, and getting more expensive—and this affects your favorite books and magazines. Shortages late in 2018 led to all kinds of problems for fall releases, and the market is expected to be tight for the foreseeable future.
6. More U.S. doctors’ offices are switching to the metric system.
At least when it comes to the scales. When I had my annual physical this month, I stepped on the scale and was surprised to see my weight displayed in kilograms instead of the usual pounds.
I asked the nurse about it, and she told me they made the switch last year and she loves it. Scale anxiety among patients is all too common, but since most of their patients aren’t fluent in metric, the new practice puts a welcome beat between seeing the number and understanding what it means. When they see their weight displayed in kilograms, it feels like a measurement, not a score. They convert it on their phones once they get to the exam room, or wait and ask their doctor.
Some medical organizations support weighing all patients in kilograms for reasons like consistency in medication dosage, and the nurse didn’t say this distance was why they made the switch. But she did say that this little change helped the staff have better conversations with their patients about their health.
7. The Royal We is getting a sequel.
I included The Royal We in the Summer Reading Guide way back in 2015. It’s fast, fun, and now it’s getting a sequel. It’s tentatively titled The Heir Affair, and it’s coming your way in the spring of 2020.
What did you learn in February?
P.S. This morning I enjoyed taking a look back at what I learned in February 2018. Click here to take a peek, if you’d like.