1-2-2007 New Year Resolutions Week

Hey there! January 2, 2007
We’ve survived another year and are another year (or day, or minute) closer to the future.
Looks like we’ve survived the holidays again. Yay, and back to normal, but due to having changed the calendars over, perhaps we are all thinking about the long-term a bit more. What have we accomplished, what do we want to accomplish? During the holidays I was thinking that I’d start the new year right by getting the house all clean and getting all my papers filed- and throw away as many as don’t need to be kept. Then last night it occurred to me that my mother and grandmother died at 63, and next month I’ll be 55. If I knew I had only 8 years left, how useful would it be to have spent them doing paperwork? I’m better off doing things like painting, sculpting, writing, healing, teaching, helping people feel better about themselves. Other than keeping the decks cleared for action, housework seems very low on the list of what’s important. Of course, I figure I’m more likely to take after Grammie and live until 94, so I have to (as we all do) live both as though I’ve got to keep my body maintained for another thirty or forty years, at the same time getting as much done as possible.
What really bugs me about being old is that I don’t recognize myself when I happen to catch my reflection in a mirror. I’d think that if my inner self was a “timeless” individual, the longer one stayed in a body, the more it would start to look like the inner self, and the more right it would feel. That’s obviously not the way humans bodies and souls work. I don’t know anyone my age who doesn’t feel alienated from his or her body. Maybe those cool people who are athletes or at least stay physically active and healthy deal better.

I guess I won’t put in pictures this week. Last week I was having fun and put in ten, and the letter didn’t go out of my mailbox, which may have been the pictures, or it may have been a problem with some address or another. It took me until the end of the week to get the letter to go out, and I took all the pictures out. I had pictures of Raven, and Little Willow with the doll Alex in his new red coat, one of Dad reading from the Bible Christmas Eve, and Trish reading A.A, Milne, then two more of the rest of us cracking up. Then a picture of the entire Richards clan, and one of just me and the kids- (I’m going to put that in- maybe one picture will get through), then one of us at Christmas breakfast, and one of the tree with the ornaments people have made over the years (thinking people might enjoy seeing ones they’d done), and a shot of some of the gifts we made each other. As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words, but I asked if anyone wanted to see them to ask for them, and no one did, even though I send this letter to 67 people. (That’s down from when I was doing AElfwine reports, and I took out three non-functional addresses last week.)

While getting ready for the holidays, I asked about the Taylors getting together, as the Richards do Christmas Eve. We used to all descend upon Steve Taylor’s house the day after Christmas, “The Feast of Stephen”, which was Steve’s birthday too. When we first got married, we’d trade off spending alternate holidays with the Richard’s and Taylors, but when we had a couple of kids, we wanted to stay home and watch them open presents, so bracketing the big day with visiting worked for us. Then the “second generation” started producing the “third generation” and, as had happened with us, they wanted to stay at their homes, so this year we thought meeting the Saturday after would work. And it did- kind of. Sadly, a lot of the “third generation” had colds, so Steve and Vicki had food for 20, and only 10 of us made it. (Goose, venison stew, two kinds of sweet potatoes- they didn’t even bring out the duck- and a HUGE cake!) On the plus side, it was the first time we’d ever all managed to get around one table! Sadly, I forgot the camera this time.
We got to see Dan again, which was good, because we discovered his big present under the tree when we opened our stuff on Christmas, so we were able to get it to him there. (I try to keep all the presents that are going out of the house under one tree, the ones staying in under the other.) I guess we’re aging, we all headed home before dark. On the trip (and at other resting moments) I’ve been knitting on a scarf using up all the leftover balls of yarn I collected while cleaning- the ones that are bulky and or variegated so they can’t be used for pattern knitting. We call it a Doctor Who style scarf- not much organization, and super long, like the one Tom Baker wore in the 70s. I think it’s about 15 feet long now, and I’ve used up almost all of the yarn. Goody once knit an actual copy of the real Dr. Who scarf. Long is good.

For Travis and Marie (and little Alex of course) came over for New Year’s Eve and we played HeroScape with the new pieces. They had to go home when Alex got cranky since he isn’t familiar enough with our house to nap here. Willow had gone over to Avi and Trevor’s and stayed the night there, so Kat, Star and I just watched the Dick Clark New’ Year’s count-down show on TV, and relaxed until midnight, then wound down and went to bed. We only turned the TV on to watch the ball drop last year, so I was somewhat taken aback by seeing him after his stroke. Last time I remember seeing him was in 2003 and he still looked about the same as ever. This year he looked old. Oh well.
New Years Day Travis and Marie, and Morgan and Rachel, and Steve Raskind all came, and we had a jolly time. We played Hero-scape again, and ate Corned Beef and Black Beans and Rice. I figure that if tradition since the Roman Empire dictates eating beans on the first day of the New Year, I will bow to it, but different beans have been chosen by different cultures over the centuries, and I continue to seek good tasting bean recipes over the vile Black Eye’d Peas my mother’s tradition favored.

As over the Thanksgiving holidays, my email stopped coming through over Christmas weekend. I don’t miss the average of 300 spam I get a day (there’s a program that sorts them out, but I still do a quick scan every day because they still let some in, and they also still filter out some personal messages that I do want), but I always wonder if during these holiday gaps I haven’t missed something more important than the daily Garfield, or holiday good wishes from someone.

One of the first things I found in my post Christmas mail was that our friend Diccon, Dick Eney, who I’ve known for about three decades in the SCA as Vuon Manh had died the day after Solstice. We’d just seen him and his wife Tamar down at Darkover, and we expecting to see him again at Etheracon, but I guess not. Having seen Heiner and others linger after strokes, I can’t help but feel simply dying is an improvement over that- but then there are people who recover almost completely, so I could wish that had happened instead. People so often say that being sick is better than the alternative, by which they mean being dead. I feel death is better than the alternative of being sick if it’s so sick that you aren’t able to live your life in a way you can at least put up with. I was going to say the life you’d want, but as healthy as I am, along with all the good things I’ve got, I wouldn’t say this is the life I want- changes still need to be made. But I do look forward to death as a much preferable alternative to infirmity, when it’s advanced enough. So I try to think about that, rather than that he was so young (67), and how much I’m going to miss him.

Of course, during the week there were other deaths: When Saddam Hussein was executed Kat remarked that it was probably going to end up on the internet immediately, and the next day she found it- although in theory it may be barred for being tacky. As long as they don’t turn it into a music video, I’m satisfied. I certainly feel no need to watch it, but I expect that there are people out there who’d want to.
I didn’t realize that Ford had died until I saw a quote about his disapproving of going into Iraq that was held from an old interview until after his death. “Hmm, I wonder when he died?” I thought. It seems that they felt it appropriate to air it pretty darned quick after he’d died. I remember people making fun of his sporting accidents when he was president. At the time I hadn’t seen that many presidents. I think we always hope that who ever is currently in office will deal with what ever’s going on better than it’s possible to actually do. I can’t remember any president being universally loved, there have always been critics. But it’s such a hard job I can’t imagine anyone actually being perfect at it.

This week we started reading the gift books and watch the movie we exchanged. Netflix movies were the series we are watching- Buffy, and Nadia, and a very silly Billy Bob Thornton movie Bad Santa, which was a fairly standard bit of holiday spirit redeeming an unbelieving old sot. I did like the scene where the fat kid learned to fight back when being harrassed by the bullies. I haven’t read enough of the old classics, but I’ll bet it was a common theme in Rome or Egypt too. There are people who are insecure and won’t defend themselves which encourages the jerks who like to victimize them. I figure that’s pretty universal, not just a modern stuff. I’ve started reading the new Kathrine Kurtz Deryni book, and have plunged back into the stack of non-fiction about the history of the occult and paganism in America movement for the book.

Our oven continues to not preheat- I suspect the thermostat. I’m going to have to call in a repairman, which I have been avoiding. Hope it won’t be an expensive fix, I’d hate to have to give up baking. We’re making an effort to eat up the food in the freezers- if we can get down to one, we can save on electricity.
The goats have finally dried up, although the chickens are laying again- probably because we turned the lights on at night. We expect the goats are pregnant, although they aren’t bulging yet since we’ve got the male in with them.

We’re planning on taking the trees down this Sunday, so if you plan to come visit and see them, try to do it before then.

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

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