Monday, January 28, 2008

community and family

I have loved Extreme Makeover: Home Edition from the first episode. I admit, it was my obsession with Trading Spaces that brought me to it in the first place. That said, I've been hooked ever since (and not just because Ty Pennington regularly unbuttons or removes his shirt!). Tonight's episode featured the Voisine family in New Hampshire, and so I was vested a bit more for a couple reasons.

First, Granite State pride! Second, a family who lives next door to my brother was nominated and was one of the final few families to be considered. Third, my niece, Caitlin, was one of the blue-shirted volunteers who helped with the project last fall.

In addition to watching the show itself, the local ABC affiliate created a one hour special called "Extreme Makeover: New Hampshire Builds a Dream." It highlighted the community angle, and was very interesting to watch. The actual EM:HE show was two hours long. All in all, it was wonderful to watch and left me needing only one thing (c'mon, click the link!).

On another note, I visited my parents earlier today. A long-time friend of theirs had mailed them some stuff she uncovered while organizing a few decades of recreation-related memorabilia. In addition to three pictures of my parents from 1974 (nice tie, Dad!), there was an editorial from my hometown newspaper. It is dated July 25, 1963. This may bore you to tears, but I am fascinated. So I shall transcribe.
"Man With a Challenge" by Dan A. O'Connell (Editor)

Gerald Cox, 29, earnest and affable, college-trained in the new but necessary skill of Recreation Director, arrived this week to take charge of our town's recreational needs on a full-time basis. It would be the understatement of the year to say merely that the job offers a tremendous challenge. The new Director undoubtedly knows all the basic theories, concepts, and techniques of this pioneer science. He has the advantage of practical experience in the field and has compiled an impressive record of accomplishment in other places. His future here looks good, but unless the people of this community are prepared to pitch in and help, the young man and his program are certain to come a-cropper.

Ours is a progressive town, aware of tremendous change in the making, and conscious of a need to adjust with the times to survive their impact. This awareness and consciousness has been evident for several years. Almost everyone agreed that "something should be done," but nothing ever was, mainly because no one seemed to know exactly what, when, where or how. The problem came to a head this year when people woke up to the fact that so-called juvenile delinquency spawns on adult neglect and community callousness. As a result, the annual Town Meeting in March faced up to the problem, created a Recreation Commission and authorized the employment of a qualified, full-time Recreation Director.

Although the Town Meeting action was unanimous, it should not be assumed that everyone in town has "seen the light" or goes along with the proposition, regardless of the recorded unanimity. Beneath the facade of Twentieth Century trappings and adornment, the town remains an old-fashioned New England community, fiercely and ruggedly individualistic, with inherent distrust of governmental intrusions of its early American way of life. Considerable "selling" of the need to bend with the times, when survival is of the essence, remains to be done. Young Mr. Cox has been given the ball and will be expected to streak down the field to a series of impressive touchdowns. He is on his own and will be required to make the runs without a protective wall of interference. We who wish him well can only shout encouragement from the sidelines and try to set in proper perspective the comment of curbstone quarter-backs.

It would be doing the young man no favor at this stage of the game to promise him clear sailing ahead and no hidden shoals to wreck his programs and shatter his dreams. The plain fact of the matter is that Directed Recreation Programs and Supervised Facilities have long been considered new-fangled hokum by many good citizens who persist in living in the past and refuse to believe that the wide open spaces of youth no longer exist, or are rapidly disappearing under the impact of expanding "metropolitanism." They belong to generations which have accepted and enjoyed the pleasures of modern living without considering the price that youngsters and generations unborn will have to pay. It is only human nature to assume that the whole world revolves about one's own axis. The selfishness is instinctive and unwitting.

There is a great deal of misunderstanding and misconception about the business of Directed Recreation, a terrible inclination to dismiss it as "coddling" or boondoggling" or "time-passing." Nothing could be farther from the truth! A dynamic and intelligent program of directed and supervised recreation for all ages is not a luxury or a convenience, but a civic necessity. There is much more to Gerald Cox's new job than supervising youthful athletics, encouraging arts and crafts, or baby-sitting while children play. He will be responsible for seeing that tragic mistakes do not recur in the future. Our generation is harassed by the spectacle of youngsters playing in the streets because a callous older generation has taken away their pasture playgrounds to turn a fast buck. Civilization is cursed by teen-agers loafing on street-corners because society gives them nowhere else to go and nothing else to do.

Young Mr. Cox has a man-sized job staring him in the face, and a good place to start is at the beginning. He should take immediate steps to prevent a bad situation from coming immeasurably worse by having a heart-to-heart talk with the Planning and Zoning authorities. It is not enough that new real estate sub-divisions be required to provide adequate road, water, and sewerage facilities: there should be sufficient land set aside for playground areas to keep the kids off the street in an age of increasing transport speed. Next, he should try to conserve and improve and expand the playground and park area still extant in our town. They certainly do not inspire civic pride at the present time. He cannot insist, but he should suggest that the uncommitted sector of the Alexander Estate be preserved, as the good Doctor wished, for recreation, not speculation.

But, enough of telling young Mr. Cox what he should do. Even more important than a good idea in a typical New England town is the psychology of convincing people to go along. The people of this town are not Hicks and Yokels, but highly intelligent and surprisingly well read, far more so than their city slicker cousins. They resent being fast-talked, high pressured, or peddled a bill of goods. They are set in their ways, but not obstinate, and like Abraham Lincoln, will do the right as God gives them to see the right. Don't try to talk above them, or at them, but to them, man-to-man. Do this, Mr. Cox, and you'll do okay! Do otherwise, and you're a dead duck!

Many bright young brains, in the course of history, have come to town with the idea of re-making it in their own image, only to fall on their faces, and crawl away into oblivion. Many of them had good ideas, but the wrong approach. We are New Englanders and New Hampshiremen; we don't want to be made over; we relish ourselves the way God made us! All we ask of Mr. Cox or anyone is to help make us better and help us better utilize the facilities and natural wealth with which Divine Providence has endowed us. If Mr. Cox dedicates himself exclusively to doing his job well, he can certainly count on the cooperation and support of the vast majority of our townspeople. Nice to have you aboard, "Gerry"... and Good Luck!

My Dad was the town's Parks and Recreation Director for 28 years until his retirement. In that time, he created, implemented, and oversaw countless recreational and athletic programs, led the conversion of an old school into a community center, built a permanent staff of full-time, part-time, and volunteer recreation staff, and lobbied long and hard (and usually successfully) to save and create parks. It was he who protected the Alexander Estate mentioned in this article. That land is the ski hill I mentioned last week. My Dad rocks.

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Another try at inventing a band, and creating an album cover and title. I like this one more than the first, though I seem to be stuck at band name upper left hand corner, album name lower right hand corner. So much for my future as a graphic designer.

Hey, Billy! Try this, please! I'd love to see what you create.

* Le Riopelle de L'isle is a cheese named after an artist
* Quotation by Carl Sagan is, "If you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first create the universe."
* Photo by Kristin Sig

Saturday, January 26, 2008

the newest release

Karmyn suggested trying this exercise to make up a band name, its album title, and cover art. Hers came out great (typo and all), and so I figured I'd give it a go. Here are the steps:

1. Go here to find the name of your band.

2. Go here and use the last four words of the last quotation as the title of your band's album

3. Go here and choose the third picture as the cover art for your band's album

4. Use a program to put it all together. I used Microsoft Publisher.

You gotta' admit, this is kind of fun.

And now, introducing the hottest musical sensation of the seacoast this millennium... Breggia!

* Breggia is a Swiss-Italian river
* Quotation by Malcolm Forbes is, "There is never enough time, unless you're serving it."
* Photo by Armando Franca

Sunday, January 20, 2008

teenage diplomats

In my hometown, there's this one hill. It's a grassy hill tucked into the middle of some woods. It's a really big hill. We called it the Ski Hill, because that was one of the things we could do there. We could also sled, toboggan, snowboard (yes, we had snowboards in the 70s). The surrounding woods provided good cross-country skiing trails. And there was a pond at the bottom of the hill where we would skate and play hockey.

Luckily, the town had the good sense to make a park of this little oasis in the trees. I knew every inch of the park well because, in addition to participating in all these activities, my Dad was the Parks & Recreation Director.

A lodge was built with a wrap-around deck outside and a fireplace, concession stand, and lots of couches and chairs inside. There was equipment rental, and the lower level had snow grooming and clearing equipment. The sound system was always playing music. For some reason, every time I hear the song "Blinded by the Light," I think of the ski lodge. In fact, I did most of my skiing around the age of 10, so that makes complete sense.

Playground equipment was installed at the edge of the woods so the park could be enjoyed in the "off" season. The annual Easter egg hunt took place here. But perhaps the most telling additions to the park were a tow rope and a massive wooden ski jump. In fact, at one point, it was the largest ski jump in the state. My oldest brother was the only one of us with the guts to actually climb up and jump off that thing. The best I could muster was to help heap snow in certain parts of the hill to make much more manageable jumps. There was also one section between the high hill and the mid-sized hill that was prone to moguls, which were also a lot of fun. To this day, my memories of time spent at the Ski Hill are all very fond.

As the 80s were drawing to a close, the litigious nature of the world eventually wrapped its claws around the park. Fearful of lawsuits should someone get hurt while playing, the insurance companies began charging ridiculously high premiums to provide the town with coverage. Little by little, they were forced to change things. The tow rope was removed. The ski jump was dismantled. My father retired, and it became a big hill with condominiums and office parks encroaching on all sides.

I drove over there the other night. It was empty. Granted, it was night, but there are still big lights that would allow for evening activities. I was the only soul around. There were four rows of hay bales mysteriously lined down the hill. And this sign caught my attention:

Rules for Winter Sliding

1. Anyone using the park for winter activities performs so at their own risk, in accordance to State of New Hampshire Recreational Use Statute RSA 508:14
2. Sledding and snowboarding are only permitted
3. Downhill skiing is not permitted
4. When a whistle or horn sounds, all activity must stop
5. Snowmobiles are not permitted
6. Do not move hay bails (sic)
7. Building jumps is not allowed
8. Walk up the hill in between the bails (sic) of hay
9. Upon completing a run downhill, exit to the sides as soon as possible
10. Plastic sleds and inflatable tubes are acceptable and permitted for use. Metal sleds and toboggans are not allowed.
11. Sledders must be in a sitting position at all times. Sliding headfirst is not allowed.
12. Sled down hill one at a time -- do not form chains
13. Snowboarders must be aware of sledders at all times
14. Do not leave children unattended
15. Please be alert and conscious of others on the hill
16. Please respect the authority of the personnel who enforce these rules and regulations
17. Not responsible for lost, stolen or damaged property
18. Animals are not permitted
19. Please follow the rules and regulations as specified
20. Have a safe and enjoyable time!

Please note: The town reserves the right to suspend any activity and remove any patrons from the facility if caught engaging in disruptive, destructive, unruly, dangerous, or illegal behavior. The town also reserves the right to enforce the above listed rules and regulations and has the authority to ask individuals who challenge or repeatedly violate the rules to vacate the park.
Sad. Half of the fun things that we could do there are gone, and they replace common sense with statutes, rules, and regulations. William Blake was right. Heavy sigh.

Song: "Far Away" by Ingrid Michaelson
Reading: Signs (of the times) at my old haunts
Other: One of our employees said to me yesterday, "Getting old isn't always fair"

Incredibly cool sledding picture above by Cat Scott.

Thursday, January 10, 2008


Michael Buble. Yup. I started listening to the "Call Me Irresponsible" album in whole, and I'm totally enamoured. This song is a cover of the Leonard Cohen song, and wow. I mean, wow. There's something about Leonard Cohen songs that make them very cover-able. For example, Mr. Buble's version of this song is (in my humble opinion) far better than Mr. Cohen's (no offense). Another example of this phenomenon is Jeff Buckley's version of "Hallelujah," which is downright definitive (again, IMHO). I mean, all due respect to Cohen's song-writing ability. Maybe I'm just of the wrong generation or continent to see his appeal as a singer. But he's an incredible composer.

Anyway, I suspect that "I'm Your Man" has not been released as a single, and so there's no official Michael Buble video for it. That said, I found this great animation to it. Very cool.

P.S. If you've never heard of Leonard Cohen before, don't worry. You're not alone (especially in the U.S.). But here's an idea of how influential he's been in the music industry: He's being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

sticking to plan is hard

I wanted to blog every day. Sometimes, life conspires against goals. This week has been like that. So, no real entry for me again (does it still count as meeting the goal if I phone it in some days?). Here is a picture of my nephew, Ryan. I was hoping he would be a guest blogger today, but this mouse's plans went awry. Maybe some other day. I had it all planned out in my mind. I'd have him interview me. He'd decide what questions to ask and type each one into the web editor. I'd type in my answer, and let him pick which pictures to add. Maybe this weekend.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


I'm reminded of a joke I heard in 8th grade.

Q: What do you call a worldwide census of Polish people?

A: The pole-to-pole Pol poll

And with that, I'm off to vote. Then lunch at our favorite cafe (the one I exalted the other day, and which happened to host a certain democratic presidential candidate yesterday). I wonder if there are still red, white, and blue banners kicking about.

By the way, I never did blog about the day that that certain democratic presidential candidate's husband stumped for her in the building right next to our house. In the picture, you can see the large American flag behind the guest of honor. We could clearly see it from our apartment window. Wild.

We didn't attend. In fact, we bugged out of town figuring it might get kinda' cramped. OK, off to vote.

Monday, January 07, 2008

paper or plastic

What does it say about me that I require large storage totes to remember where I've put things and hand-written lists to remember everything else? I may find out more about that today than I'd like. In any event, I've been bad about keeping my usual lists, and decided it's time to get back on that horse. Hopefully, I'll get more done.

That's the extent of today's post. It's probably stretching a bit to call it a full-fledged entry, but I'm trying to post at least once a day, and this particular moment is the last chance I'll have before I get back from work tomorrow at about 1:00am. Happy Monday.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

fluff, fold, weapons, wildlife

Schedules be damned, I went to bed at 8:30pm last night. I fought off the forces of Milo (who usually spends a minimum of two hours knocking things over and walking across Ted to get my attention in the middle of the night), and I slept for eight straight hours. I don't know the last time I did that. In any case, I was up at 4:30am, and it was after sleeping instead of before. I will be seriously screwed up tomorrow. Oh well.

I took Ted to work at 5:00am. I came back home and tried to fix a stubbornly uncooperative application on my computer (still unsuccessful). I watched part of a cool Nova show about Alberto Santos-Dumont. I caught up on news of the presidential debate and other such events. At 7:00am, I went back to the store to pick Ted up. We went to breakfast before delving into chores.

We've discovered this wonderful cafe that makes great breakfasts and lunches. Everything is so fresh! Not to mention delicious! Since initially testing the waters, we've been back probably 8-9 times in the past few weeks. Today, I went mainstream and had French toast, sausage patties, scrambled eggs, and fresh squeezed orange juice (with a ton of pulp, as it should be). Their breakfast specialty seems to be variations of Eggs Benedicts. Thus far, I've tried Basil Feta Bene (tomato slices in lieu of Canadian bacon, and feta cheese and basil on top of the Hollandaise sauce) and Eggs Chartres (a spinach/artichoke heart spread in lieu of Canadian bacon). They occasionally have Salmon Bene on the special menu. I had that once in Chicago, and it was wonderful. I'll try it here eventually. With the exception of twice having the Basil Feta Bene ('cuz it's reeeaallally good), I've not yet duplicated a menu selection, and everything has been delicious and fresh. Did I use those adjectives before? Must mean it's true. Oh, and they have an in-house bakery that makes scrumptious blueberry muffins. Delicious and fresh. (Now, I'm just being silly.) And I haven't even mentioned their lunch menu. Another time, perhaps.

After breakfast, we headed to the laundromat. This is usually a one-person job (and that person is usually Ted). But because I was awake and functioning, I decided to pitch in. This also allowed us to catch up on washing some larger, bulkier things because there were two of us to haul stuff up and down the stairs. We used four regular washers and one big capacity front-loading washer. The best thing about laundromats (other than the warmth and singular aroma of fabric softener) is being able to wash and dry all the loads at once. Makes the process much faster. So, it was 22 minutes in the wash, and we transferred everything into two of the massive dryers. Given the volume of wet items in each, we pumped in 54 minutes worth of quarters, and decided to go on a short adventure.

Without reason or agenda, we ended up quite accidentally at the Great Bay National Wildlife Refuge. Now, I knew this place existed, but we didn't know anything about it and hadn't made our way there before now. Turns out it, too, was part of the old air force base. We wended our way around the far end of the incredibly long runway (11,321 feet or 2.14 miles if you're counting), we found the entrance to the park. The first thing we noticed was a large chain link fence with old, rusty barbed wire and a series of gates. The sign read "Former Weapons Storage Area." Nice! Then we found an information board with the title "Weapons to Wildlife." I didn't get a true idea of how big this former weapons storage area was until I came home and Google-mapped it. See above aerial photo. The end of the runway is on the right. The weapons storage area is at the bottom left (shaped kind of like a Christmas stocking!). We made it as far as the parking lot, which appears to be a small, white block at the top right edge of the stocking.

As interested as I might be to wander around a lush green wildlife refuge right on a big bay (a bit of which is seen in the upper left corner), it's difficult not to wonder if there might be any sort of contamination there. This is what happens when I hang out with conspiracy theorists. One of the people in my office thinks that the mysterious pipe tops in the field next to our building are caps to underground nuclear waste tanks. And Ted suspects that everything in the vicinity contains nerve gas.

Anyway, we zipped back to the laundromat to retrieve our stuff and headed back home. Some more chores ensued, a nap, a telephone conversation with a friend, and then we decided to go to a movie. But first, we headed to Kittery, where Ted exchanged a pair of jeans I gave him for three shirts and two belts. But the true purpose of the trip was to stop at Yummies to get some treats to sneak into the theater. Said surreptitious snacks were procured, but our master plan was foiled when we were unable to find a single parking space anywhere near the theater.

Subsequently, we abandoned "National Treasure: Book of Secrets" (or any of the movies that we might have seen today) and headed back home to view one of the DVDs we'd received for Christmas. After fiddling with the DVD player (it's been powered up but not connected to the TV since we moved in August), we settled in and watched "Meet the Robinsons." We hadn't seen it in the theater but had heard good things about it, so Santa was nice enough to provide us with a copy. I really enjoyed it, and look forward to future viewings, during which I'll undoubtedly pick up more of the details that zoomed by so quickly! I was proud of myself for correctly identifying Jamie Cullum as the voice of Frankie the Signing Frog. I haven't completely lost my music touch.

All in all, a productive-yet-simultaneously-fun day. How often does one get to say that in life? Tomorrow won't be as fun. I may blog the specifics on Tuesday. Or you may just never know.

Good night.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

presto change-o

New blog layout. I've just changed the template thus far, which is just the background graphics and colors, along with better archive functionality. Oh yeah, and it finally killed the Snapshots thing that caused the old blog to take about 92 minutes to load. I'll find some time to make serious changes to it over the next few weeks. Updating links, adding features, other bloggy stuff. Until then, I'm off to bed. Early! Because I got home early from work! Yay, paid time off! Yay, sleep! Yay, weekend!

Friday, January 04, 2008

slide show

The above picture was taken just shy of 42 years ago. How can I be so certain as to its date? It was snapped in the living room of my childhood home, shortly after I was born (I'm the one sporting the swaddling wrap). Today is my 42nd birthday.

I have no great insight to share. No deep, meaningful wisdom culled from my four-plus decades on Earth. No sage advice to impart. Just a little then-and-now slide show. Above, from left to right, are my sister Cathy, and brothers Gerry, Chris, and Sean. Below, current pictures of each, in order oldest to youngest.

This is Gerry. He's lived in California for almost 30 years. He's an adaptive physical education teacher, and he climbs anything vertical (hence the rock in the background). He's game to try anything -- surfing, cycling, astronomy, geocaching, drumming, spelunking... you name it, and if he hasn't already tried it, he probably will.

This is Chris. He bought the house next door to the one we grew up in, and has been there making extensive home improvements and raising a family ever since. He's a database administrator for a truly massive corporation, and spends his spare time as a Boy Scout leader and watching any vehicle that comfortably goes 200 miles per hour. He and Shirley will celebrate their 21st anniversary this summer.

This is Sean. Also one who stayed relatively close to home (a mere five miles away from the homestead), he is a science/health teacher and athletic trainer for a rival high school (though he still has the good conscience to be conflicted when they play our alma mater). His kids keep him elbow deep in activities like camping, maintaining their personal wildlife preserve, and rooting on the Red Sox and Patriots. He and Debbi celebrated their 25th anniversary last summer with an Alaskan adventure.

This is Cathy. She's the first in the family with two kids in college and the third on the cusp. Cathy lives a bit further from home base, in a house that bears remarkable resemblance to our Grandma Cox's house (right down to the attic accessed through a miniature door in a bedroom, and a cold shed behind the kitchen). She manages a large call center for an insurance company, and is very involved in her church community which, of late, is working to acclimate several families of Congolese refugees to life in very cold New Hampshire. Cathy and Tim will celebrate their 23rd anniversary this year.

Words can't really describe how much I love these people. And not just because their my siblings and I'm obligated to say that. I guess the difference is that I not only love them, I really like them.

With that, I need to do some work for the store before I go to bed. Happy birthday to me. One more shot. Wasn't I cute?

Thursday, January 03, 2008

behind the curve

Long ago, I resided on the bleeding edge of music. I loved "discovering" artists well before anyone else had the good sense to recognize their talent (well, other than the record label that signed them). It wasn't just embracing alternative for the sake of being alternative. I loved finding an amazing pop song a year before it hit the airwaves, and trying not to be too smug when the whole world went "Wow! This is a great song!"

Maybe it wasn't so long ago. The difference now is that my sources of music have changed. So, even though I do listen to very new music by as-yet-unknown artists, sometimes I don't even find out about something great until after the general public has already come to appreciate it.

Also a contributing factor is the way in which I listen to my music these days. Before iTunes, I would buy a CD, put it in the player, and listen track to track. Sometimes, I'd listen to it over and over and over. Now, I put all the new music I acquire into the pool and hit "shuffle." I love this feature, and believe that iTunes and shuffle are among the best innovations of the last century. That said, it has drastically altered the whole concept of an album of songs that go together.

So, I found a song last night on my iPod while I was working. After listening to it once, I switched from "shuffle all" to "repeat one," and literally listened to it 75 times. It's a marvelous catchy tune. It has wonderful lyrics. And I had already determined that I love Michael Buble's voice (a couple years ago, thankyouverymuch). But because of my shuffle tendencies, I hadn't listened to the whole of "Call Me Irresponsible." That will change.

So, in doing a little research today, I found out that everyone else found it last year. The video was uploaded to YouTube in April. The song charted at #1 in the Adult Contemporary category. And it's just been nominated for a Grammy. Wow, I'm so far out of the loop. I also found out that this song was produced by Bob Rock -- someone whose wildly eclectic music career I've embraced for 25 years. At least I'm consistent, albeit in a new, squiggly path kind of way.

Without further ado, even though you've probably seen it a hundred times and know all the words by heart, "Everything," by Michael Buble.

Fun video, too.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

mission accomplished

One thing on the 'to do' list is done. This is how it works, right? Start at the top, pick a chore, do the chore, and check it off the list. Simple. Now onto the next thing.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

first day

I'm not in the New Year's spirit. Is that possible? I mean, how is it possible? Really, what about the idea of New Year is there not to like?

It's not that I dislike it. It's just that I have other things on my mind this time around. Never one to participate in the festivities, it's not like I missed out this year because I didn't attend a party. I never do.

I worked until 10:30pm (don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they let us out two hours early). When I got home, I watched half an hour of the weak programming on one television network, and half an hour of commercials interspersed with nanosecond appearances by Dick Clark, Ryan Seacrest, a few of Disney's and American Idol's latest stars, and about a million of their closest friends in Times Square.

My husband and I kissed at midnight. That was the best part. And now it's another day, pretty much like all other days, except I didn't have to work today. Ted did -- up before the freakin' crack of dawn to open the store, and there for nine hours. It snowed. Again. Did I mention that we just survived the snowiest December in New Hampshire history? I still have all the same chores on my 'to do' list. I still have all the same worries. I still don't know what to do about my chores and worries. This year, the type of blind optimism that even the grumpiest people embrace (at least temporarily) has eluded me. And I'm not typically one of the grumpiest.

So, why am I here? Why bother blogging on the holiday when I'm so clearly not drinking the Kool-Aid this year? Two reasons. I'd like to try and be a bit more conscientious about writing, and that includes blogging. That said, I am tempted to put sanguinary blue on ice and start an anonymous blog, but that's a story for another day. And I want to share the always well-timed and beautifully phrased wisdom of Verlyn Klinkenborg. From his "The Rural Life" column in the New York Times.

New Year’s Eve
By Verlyn Klinkenborg

At midnight tonight, the horses on this farm will age a year. That is the custom — every horse has the same birthday, Jan. 1. Like all things calendrical, this is a human convention. When it comes to equine conventions, I know enough to notice some of the simpler forms of precedence: who goes first through a gate, who gets to the grain feeder ahead of the others. But I can report that the horses make no fuss about their common birthday or the coming of the new year. Tonight, like any other, they will be standing, dozing on their feet, ears tipping back and forth at the slightest of sounds.

There is something deeply gratifying about joining the horses in their pasture a few minutes before the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve. What makes the night exceptional, in their eyes and mine, is my presence among them, not the lapsing of an old year.

It’s worth standing out in the snow just to savor the anticlimax of midnight, just to acknowledge that out of the tens of millions of species on this planet, only one bothers to celebrate not the passing of time, but the way it has chosen to mark the passing of time. I remember the resolutions I made when I was younger. I find myself thinking that one way to describe nature is a realm where resolutions have no meaning.

It’s not that time isn’t passing or that the night doesn’t show it. The stars are wheeling around Polaris, and the sugar maples that frame the pasture are laying down another cellular increment in their annual rings. The geese stir in the poultry yard. A hemlock sheds its snow. No two nights are ever the same.

I always wonder what it would be like to belong to a species — just for a while — that isn’t so busy indexing its life, that lives wholly within the single long strand of its being. I will never have even an idea of what that’s like.

I know because when I stand among the horses tonight, I will feel a change once midnight has come. Some need will have vanished, and I will walk back to the house — lights burning, smoke coming from the wood stove — as if something had been
accomplished, some episode closed.

I love that this article puts the hype into perspective. At least, it somewhat justifies my lack of enthusiasm for the revelry. It also gives me an excuse to include a picture of my niece, Courtney. Not that I need an excuse. I feel certain she wished Willie a happy horse birthday and carrot-filled new year.