Happy new year.

Happy new year to all! I’m taking a break from closet-cleaning to cook for our dinner party tonight. Just two guests besides us, and here’s the menu: Prime rib, pommes dauphine, spinach sautéed with garlic and olive oil, chocolate mousse. Our guests are bringing a seafood appetizer and a fennel-arugula salad. If I were Jesus and could perform miracles, I’d whisk you all here and multiply the menu loaves-and-fishes style, but alas, I am but me.

It was a good year, and I’m hoping for another. There were trials along the way, but we got them into the rear-view, and no one got seriously sick, injured or estranged. I saw a lot, did a lot, drank a bit of wine. Today’s breakfast was a scrambled egg with some leftover black beans and rice, topped with pico de gallo. A tasty final breakfast for a tasty year.

I hope yours was as good, and the same for the future.

Laura Lippman is doing her one-word resolution again. I cheated in 2013 and made three — focus, floss, finish. I accomplished two, which I guess serves me right. The hygienist was unimpressed, said I still had gum recession, and counseled an electric toothbrush. Well, OK.

So for 2014, a continuation of those three, and a new one, just one word: Prune. As in, to trim, to cut back, to pare away deadwood, to leave behind bullshit that isn’t working anymore.

We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I’ll see you around these usual haunts. Because this place, year after year, slump after peak, still works.

If you’re off today and tomorrow and looking for something to read, let me make a recommendation: This. Henry Allen was one of the first people I met in my professional career who made me say, “I want to be that guy,” and this essay, about his grandfather’s house in Orange, N.J., shows why. Not too long, a beautiful journey down memory’s potholed path.

Happy 2014 to all.

Posted at 8:57 am in Same ol' same ol' |
 

78 responses to “Happy new year.”

  1. Peter said on December 31, 2013 at 9:33 am

    And a Happy New Year to all of my friends, here at NNC and elsewhere! I love both of you!

    Seriously Nancy, I’m glad you explained what prune meant to you, because I don’t think you’re a prune and I wouldn’t want you to become one: there’s plenty of them around, and a lot more are on backorder.

  2. David C. said on December 31, 2013 at 9:44 am

    Ride. I’m going to cycle that 1000 miles this year.

  3. Kevin said on December 31, 2013 at 10:12 am

    Happy New Year to you, Nancy. I read and enjoy you all the time but don’t often comment.

    One note about hygienists: they are never impressed; you will always be doing it wrong.

  4. coozledad said on December 31, 2013 at 10:15 am

    The Henry Allen piece is beautifully done. It reminds me of the ambience of the house my mother grew up in: dark and oddly formal, the perfect setting for a string of abuses. It was a place you could develop the idea that ghosts were the echo of old miseries- A boy just returned home from the navy being whipped at the door for drink on his breath by an old man who would have been stoned to death by righteous members of the community, if there’d been any. At the very least he should have been knocked to the ground and kicked.

    The same old man swinging a frying pan at his children.

    Then there was the spectral presence of my aunt Helen, her tongue swollen with chloral hydrate. Another casualty of her father.

    Looking at the online realtor’s pictures of that hellhole it only looks like a mopey old pastel painted dump now, instead of the greasy mahogany shadow I remember. It’s funny that once the family bugged out, the odor of corruption must have bugged out with it.

    Oh, and the Henry Allen piece reminds me of something Fran Lebowitz says.

    You don’t earn a billion dollars. You steal it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nu1suQP1vC4

  5. brian stouder said on December 31, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Excellent post; you had me at “prime rib”! (we are having the same)

    That New Yorker piece was sublime, and exactly scratches the itch I have just now, with regard to time passing and old places and passions, and forgotten photographs.

    Happy New Year, y’all!

    This blog is the best place on the internet, period.

  6. Heather said on December 31, 2013 at 11:07 am

    I have often thought about the family history that will die with me–I’m the one who remembers the details, but I don’t have any kids (by choice). Maybe my young nephews will be interested in Auntie Heather’s stories someday–I hope so.

    The other day on a bike ride on the lakefront (we had some really nice mild weather on Saturday in Chicago, so we made sure to get out and enjoy it), we passed an older man sitting on a bench enjoying the view and a pipe. He was all decked out in a snazzy tweed coat, fedora and an actual physical copy of the New York Times tucked in his pocket. It was such a charming sight, and I realized that when I was a kid, old guys around dressed like that all the time. I miss it.

  7. Julie Robinson said on December 31, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Organize, same as last year. Still too many boxes in the basement.

    Heather, I bought our son a fedora for Christmas. Earlier this year my mom unearthed a greatcoat that belonged to her father back in the 40′s or 50′s, a beautiful heavy wool tweed. It fits Matt perfectly and looks fantastic with his tux when he is off to a performance. The fedora will be the perfect topper.

  8. LAMary said on December 31, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    Heather, I know what you mean. I’m the one who knows who all those people are in the old family photos and is in touch with relatives in distant places. My friend list in facebook is full of people with my maiden name, spread all over the country, and I regularly talk to them. I think it’s a role that falls to the women in the family for some reason. My brothers barely speak to each other. I talk to all of them.

  9. David C. said on December 31, 2013 at 12:37 pm

    My wife and I are in process of updating our wills. We have a secretary that my great-grandfather built. The joinery is a bit rustic, but it is made of chestnut which is more beautiful than walnut and not available anymore because of chestnut blight. Anyway, we have no idea who to give it to. We have no children, our niece has an idiot fiance, in constant financial woe, who I’m sure would sell it on craigslist for $25 (it’s appraised and insured for $8000), our nephew is only a sophomore in college and we have no idea if he’ll appreciate it. I guess when I’m dead I won’t care, and I can’t make the next generation care about out family history, but while I’m alive, it means a lot to me. I have no idea. I may donate it to the historical museum in the township where my family is from. We were the first of European descent to settle there so it has some historic value. I may just punt this decision and wait for a while to see what shakes out.

  10. MichaelG said on December 31, 2013 at 12:38 pm

    Organize? Nope. My cleaning lady organizes. She comes once a month and it takes me a week afterward to find stuff.

    My one word for this year is Retire.

  11. coozledad said on December 31, 2013 at 12:55 pm

    David C.: There’s bound to be some living history museum or restoration project that would make good use of that desk. Although it’s not currently in our house, I’ve seen some of the pieces that originated here. My house was built and added onto by craftsmen, and the family that lived here the longest were carpenters and joiners. They made beautiful cabinets with dovetail joints from sections of pine board sometimes two feet in width. All of it dispersed now.

    Even fine furniture builders in this locale have had their work schlepped up by a bunch of redneck yuppie trash. Probably destined to be reconfigured into home entertainment centers or chewed and spat on by their armies of sprog:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Day_(North_Carolina)

  12. David C. said on December 31, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    I’m really leaning in that direction, coozledad. My great-grandmother, wife of the secretary’s builder was adamant that anything of hers the family didn’t want should be burnt. She was horrified that someone would buy something of hers and say it had been in their family for ages. I think she would be pleased to have it in a museum with great-grandpa Charlie’s name attached to it.

  13. Charlotte said on December 31, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    My one word is Finish. I’m going to finish a draft of this sysiphean book (I’m on draft 3? 4? I’ve lost count) if it kills me. Then back to the mystery novel I wrote half of while trying not to write this one.

    I passed on a family heirloom this year. My grandmother gave me several pieces of jewelry because “you’re the only one who will remember the story” so I gave one, my great-grandmother’s Grand Tour charm bracelet to my cousin’s daughter, who just graduated from college. She loved it. That felt good.

    Dinner tonight pork roast, mashed taters, sauteed kale. And I’m hoping my buddy Elwood has a screener of American Hustle.

  14. Jenine said on December 31, 2013 at 2:14 pm

    Dinner tonight will be whatever’s been thawed out of my husband’s Christmas bonus 25 pound box of meat. (I think this white paper pkg is chicken breasts, we should have chosen more carefully.) I love that bonus, it’s from a local butcher. I need to put the black eyed peas to soak. We’re going to American Hustle at the movie theater.
    I think explore will be my 2014 word.

  15. Sherri said on December 31, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    When I got an electric toothbrush, my hygienist stopped fussing at me, even though I’m an indifferent flosser. My gums really did get better. The electric toothbrush was a big help during the braces years, too. The toothbrush itself isn’t that expensive when you consider how long it lasts, but the heads are pretty outrageous.

    My one word is Empty. Empty the noise in my head that drives my anxiety, and empty the crap in my house that I no longer need.

    We’re going to a board game party tonight to see in the New Year.

  16. brian stouder said on December 31, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Just lost at Scrabble.

    But I’ll get ‘em when we play Tigris & Euphrates…

  17. alex said on December 31, 2013 at 3:06 pm

    I second what Sherri says about electric brushes. If found my Oral B immensely helpful with stains, particularly when I was smoking, and it’s good for the gums. I never bother to floss and my hygienist seems none the wiser, that’s how well it works.

    Tonight hanging out at a bar owned by friends; they’re having a reservations-only party with a buffet and a band. My partner and one of his employees are volunteering their services tonight as chauffeurs for schlepping drunks home from this affair. Tomorrow going to a corned beef and cabbage party.

  18. Deborah said on December 31, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    We spent the night last night in Abiquiu at our friend’s freezing casita. There is a fireplace but it is horribly inefficient. Little Bird made a green chile chicken stew yesterday that we heated up in the fireplace. It was delicious. Tonight we’re going to watch some more episodes of the history of film DVD set that my brother in law gave us for Christmas. I doubt that we’ll stay awake till midnight, we hardly ever do anymore.

    Jan 2nd is Little Bird’s birthday, I’d tell you what her present is but she’ll probably read this. On New Year’s eve when I was pregnant with Little Bird, I sat on the floor and ate an entire platter of cookies thinking that would induce labor and then she would be born before the New Year. She was born 27 hours and 9 minutes later.

  19. Alan Stamm said on December 31, 2013 at 3:22 pm

    I’m also among the readers grateful for the uber-worthy Henry Allen recommendation . . . and for this place that works quite well, indeed.

    It’s a welcome day-starting destination.

    Happy New Year, Nancy. May your vision remain as crystal-clear as your voice. Na zdrowie.

  20. Sherri said on December 31, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Brian, you might enjoy Salmon Run, a game I got my husband for Christmas. It’s not a hardcore gamer game, but it’s a fun family game with elements of more hardcore games.

  21. Kirk said on December 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

    Out for a good Italian dinner tonight and home in plenty of time before the amateurs make life dangerous on the streets. Then the traditional pork roast, mashed potatoes, sauerkraut and green bean casserole at home tomorrow. Wine at both meals, of course.

    Happy new year, everybody.

  22. Minnie said on December 31, 2013 at 4:46 pm

    Off to keep a band wife company while her husband plays trumpet at a restaurant. We’ll leave well before midnight, because my husband is kayaking up the Pagan River tomorrow and doesn’t want to be accompanied by a headache.

    This afternoon I cooked black eyed peas, greens. Tomorrow, if he survives the Pagan, I’ll whomp up some cornbread for supper. As he pointed out, should he not return, those dishes will be welcome at the after party.

    Hoping 2014 will be a good year for all of Nancy’s readers and, of course, for the sole prop.

  23. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on December 31, 2013 at 7:02 pm

    “The amateurs” indeed. Heh. Back in Ohio and safe at home with the oven working on various warm goodies.

    Hummus and cheese puffs are the expected traditions of the eve at Sycamore Lodge. Blessings of the new year to one and all.

    One word? — I like “prune” even if I made fun of it on Twitter. “Edit” & “complete” are a close second and third.

  24. Danny said on December 31, 2013 at 8:50 pm

    Happy new year, all. I did a big ride today and took lots of pics and will try to share them tomorrow.

    We never go out on New Years, but Robin has a cold on top of everything, so it will be extra low key this year.

    Our friend who has the SAG membership came over last night and we watched “August: Osage County.” Very highly recommended. Leaps and bounds better than “American Hustle.”

  25. Sherri said on December 31, 2013 at 10:41 pm

    Danny, have you seen the play August: Osage County performed? Just wondering how the movie compares; most of the reviewers I’ve read hadn’t seen the play.

  26. Crazycatlady said on January 1, 2014 at 12:22 am

    One word resolution: Abide. It will be an interesting year. The place I work is being sold and I have no clue about what will happen to me or my co-workers. I have 28 years in. And Detroit. My hubby has 29 years in. So our future is unknowable at this point. So I will just go with the flow and watch for options!

  27. Deborah said on January 1, 2014 at 1:03 am

    Happy new year all.

  28. basset said on January 1, 2014 at 10:24 am

    That was indeed an expertly written story… about people who might as well be Martians for all I could relate to them. when the mills “went South” my forebears could come down out of the mountains and find work; dangerous, demeaning, underpaid work but better than none.

    Didn’t make it to midnight last night; loaded up a guitar and a mandolin and went to an art gallery where several of us have been playing on NYE for the last few years, closing down at eight so all us worn-out old folks can get home early. Sang poorly and played worse but nobody seemed to mind; came home, ate, had two drinks and faded to black.

    Resolution for the year… I suppose it’s “accept,” try not to get so wound up about life’s problems and frustrations. To that end, Mrs. B. is sick again and just spent a couple days in the hospital, a whole troop of high-powered doctors are still trying to figure out what’s wrong with her.

  29. basset said on January 1, 2014 at 10:33 am

    And I see Andy Granatelli died last week… http://blog.hemmings.com/index.php/2013/12/31/andy-granatelli-mister-500-dead-at-90/?refer=news

  30. basset said on January 1, 2014 at 10:36 am

    One more… those potatoes look really good, can someone provide a synopsis of the recipe in English so us uncultured types with no French can try it?

  31. Joe K said on January 1, 2014 at 10:37 am

    Happy New Years to all.
    What a day for the winter classic in Ann Arbor, 105,000 plus to watch a hockey game,
    Snow, wind, cold, just like old times on some pond in the middle of a field, should be wonderful to watch.
    Pilot Joe

  32. Kim said on January 1, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I had that feeling about stories lost when hanging ornaments on the Christmas tree. Every one has a story, which I told my daughter with an insane urgency that made her laugh. To me, so important. To the future, not so much.

    Happy new year to all and thanks to the proprietress for keeping the place chock-full of interesting observations.

    Minnie, your husband is in for a frigid paddle if you’re talking the Pagan in VA. It’s a beautiful day here but no way would I get on the river without seeing 50 degrees.

  33. Deborah said on January 1, 2014 at 10:39 am

    Basset, sorry to hear Mrs. B is sick. Hope all turns out well.

  34. basset said on January 1, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thanks… three liver biopsies and they’re still not sure what’s happening, her big-deal, big-reputation surgeon says he’s never seen anything like it.

  35. MichaelG said on January 1, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    Happy New Year, everybody!

  36. Danny said on January 1, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    Some views from my bike ride on New Year’s Eve.

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030264_zps6c155748.jpg

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030324_zps6e866dcd.jpg

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030353_zps7477edb9.jpg

  37. Danny said on January 1, 2014 at 4:42 pm

    Swami’s

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030370_zpsb24b7615.jpg

    Dog Beach

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030369_zps665fa9ed.jpg

  38. Danny said on January 1, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Another nice beach view south of Swami’s

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030377_zps31f22ffb.jpg

    A field where I would have liked to have played little league baseball:

    http://i97.photobucket.com/albums/l231/gearsmith/BikeRide_2013-12-31/P1030383_zps8d12c8b9.jpg

  39. brian stouder said on January 1, 2014 at 5:00 pm

    Basset – I hadn’t heard that about Granatelli. To be honest, I wouldn’t have assumed he was still alive.

    I’d have guessed that if he was still alive, he’d still be visible, like AJ Foyt (who isn’t in great shape, these days)

  40. David C. said on January 1, 2014 at 5:25 pm

    Danny, you would do the green eyed monster in me good if you would tell me that in June, July, and August it’s too damn hot to bike.

  41. brian stouder said on January 1, 2014 at 5:46 pm

    Evocative images, indeed. My brother is a jogger, and he disappeared beyond Dog Beach, while the rest of us either people-watched (my other brother), read a book (my son!) or went into the surf (me)

  42. Danny said on January 1, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    Curious, can you guys (hopefully) get to the whole photo album? I took over 170 pics and they are pretty cool. I’ve never documented my ride before, but it is too beautiful not to share and I definitely wanted Brian and basset to have a chance to see some of the areas they have visted. It added about 2 hours to the ride.

  43. basset said on January 1, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Mrs. B. was most pleased with the Dog Beach pics… meanwhile, I didn’t think Andy Granatelli was still alive either. Not the last owner to run a Novi at Indy, probably the best known though.

    Didn’t know that about AJ Foyt, either… close to thirty years ago I was in a hotel bar in Atlanta on race weekend and walked around some cocky little old man in cowboy boots, beer in one hand, popcorn in the other, standing there and acting like he owned the place. got past him and it finally registered… “that’s AJ f***ing Foyt, greatest American race driver ever!” Hung back and just watched for awhile… and before anyone brings up Mario Andretti, he’s Italian and no American driver is even close.

  44. Dorothy said on January 1, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    Hullo all and greetings for a splendid 2014.

    I did not particularly care for Ameican Hustle and am mystified by the fabulous reviews. On the other hand, we REALLY liked Nebraska with Bruce Dern. Who gives a crap if it’s in black & white!?

    We saw August:Osage County on stage and loved it. I am very much looking forward to seeing the movie.

    Drove to Pittsburgh yesterday to take my 91 year darling mom to lunch, and my d-i-l came along. She was plotting with her hubby (my Josh) to get a quick FaceTime call in. And it worked. My mom just about cried to have the chance to talk briefly with her grandson in Afghanistan. She called several relatives after she got home to brag about it. She said she is glad she lived long enough to see such a marvelous thing.

  45. paddyo' said on January 1, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    I don’t like prunes, but I sure like “PRUNE” for a one-word resolution. I’ve been doing that here at my desk at home all afternoon. It’s a start.
    Happy 2014 to all . . .

  46. Joe K said on January 1, 2014 at 7:46 pm

    A.J. Is still alive and feisty, just don’t think he could fit in a Indy car anymore.
    He is not on his death bed by any stretch, and yes he was the best ever. He won in everything he drove, also beat the snotty Europeans at Le,Mans.
    I still would have loved to see the faces of the other drivers the first time A.J. Cranked up that gt with 429 cubic inches of Detroit muscle in it, bet their cheese curdled.
    Pilot Joe

  47. brian stouder said on January 1, 2014 at 8:22 pm

    Joe – indeed AJ is still alive and lucid.

    Here’s an interview with hims from late last year

    http://www.racintoday.com/archives/43202

    an excerpt about his health –

    Q: Since you mentioned the health issues and we’ve all covered you in this town for a very long time, what’s been going on? Were you in the hospital recently?

    A.J.: “The biggest thing is at the beginning of the year I had to have some back surgery. I had to have my back operated on. Last year I wound up having actually surgery for a rotator cuff, and my knee got a staph infection, and they had to operate on me three times to take my knee in and out and wash it. Then I got over that and my back was messed-up from racing through the years. So I went earlier this year for that.

    “I went to Indy and I went down healthy, and then I came back and kept having pain, pain, pain. That’s when they said you have a hip that’s all arthritic and I had arthritis in it and it healed-up. I said, ‘What are you saying there is nothing you can do about it?’ I was having a lot of pain. I couldn’t put my own socks on or nothing or bend my leg. They said you’re just going to have to have hip surgery. So I said, ‘Well, get with it.’ I didn’t know it was going to hurt like it did. It’s been pretty hard coming back. So that’s been the big problem. But everything’s looking good now. I’m on the downhill run. Every day is like a new day with me. I’m not a hundred percent, don’t get me wrong, but I’m up to about 85 percent.”

    Q: Could you have imagined that it would be 50 years later before you got back, even though you’re not driving, at least got back to run a race in Houston?

    A.J.: “Well, everybody said when I started I was never going to live to be 22, so I don’t know if that’s good or bad. I wasn’t even supposed to be around this long. They showed me pictures of my earlier days up on two wheels and one wheel. That’s when you didn’t have all of the roll cages. I guess I’m lucky to still be here. It’s been a good life. It’s been a fun life. Life is very short. People don’t realize if you cannot do what you want to do in life, you have a miserable life. So far I’ve been able to do what I want to do and had a lot of fun. I’ve been able to feed my wife (Lucy) and the children (A.J. III, Terry, Jerry and Larry). I’m no big, big, multi-, multi-millionaire, but at least I know where my next meal’s coming from now. It’s been a good life and I’ve had a lot of fun. So what else can you ask about life?”

  48. Basset said on January 1, 2014 at 9:45 pm

    Joe, it was probably a lot like the time Cale Yarborough ran a Camaro at Le Mans…

  49. Minnie said on January 1, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    Kim, reportedly, the paddle up the Pagan was fun and not too cold for bundled-up kayakers. (I prefer to wait for warmer weather myself.) They saw a black swan!

  50. LAMary said on January 1, 2014 at 11:38 pm

    Prune made me think of the wonderful recipe that was shared here a while back. The pork stew with prunes? Got to make that again soon.
    We had considered taking advantage of the free public transportation the city of LA was providing last night. All the buses and light rail were free from 9 pm to 2 am to accommodate folks who shouldn’t or couldn’t drive. We were going to all ride to Pasadena, have a pizza, then come home. The light rail is at the bottom of the hill where I live and it’s not a bad walk. Then I realized that the sidewalks of Pasadena were completely covered with the people who sleep there to save their viewing spots for the Rose Parade. We decided to bag that idea, so we stayed home and hade linguine with garlic and hot pepper, some pistachio linzer cookies, and a lot of sparkling cider.

  51. Dexter said on January 2, 2014 at 5:10 am

    I had my neck bones, braised, baked and stewed a few minutes with sauerkraut. What a joke that was. Pork neck bones are not made to provide any meat, just to flavor beans or whatevah. I guess I knew that. The kraut and the pumpernickel bread with butter were good. I do not know where I read that neck bones and kraut were necessary for good luck in the coming year, but I suffered through that requisite meal, so I should be the luckiest one around in 2014.
    My daughter woke up sick three days ago and could not shake spiking 104 fever-temps, and had to go to the hospital today where she was admitted as a patient. My saintly wife did not hesitate, just jumped into her car and blasted through this big winter storm and drove to Columbus to help with the baby. She said once she got to I-75 it was dry roads. Here in Bryan, at 5:10 AM, we have deep snow that has drifted deeper in my yard. Helluva storm so far with the sub-zero temps to be here in a few days.

  52. Kim said on January 2, 2014 at 7:40 am

    Minnie – The day (and the Pagan mention) inspired me almost to the point of paddling. Instead I chose the bike and saw white swans and a couple of bald eagles – not as cool as a black swan, but as a kid who grew up in a city and its burbs anything more than a crow or squirrel is exotic!

  53. brian stouder said on January 2, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Snow!

    Wind!!

    I confess, I like the snow. I like the time-released irrigation it provides to the deep ground. The wind is another matter; but snow is good stuff.

    Aside from that, our 15 year old is at flag corps practice at her school(!); they said if you can make it, come in – and Pam got her there by the 10:00 am start time. (I will pick her up at 6 pm, this evening. This is a good object lesson in perseverance…and also in defensive driving)

    Aside from that, I’ve been steering around our main office homophobe, and his (unwilling? who knows) Amen Corner today. Fox News must have had a new anti-gay package (so to speak)

    And aside from all that, my most most most favorite driver was Greg Moore; met him in St Louis (at Gateway raceway) many years ago.

  54. Charlotte said on January 2, 2014 at 12:11 pm

    My 13-year old bird dog, who has been on his last pins for about 6 weeks, waited until the holiday to decide it was time to go. Poor guy. Could Not Breathe. Called our local vet, who luckily lives right next door to his clinic, and he met me there. The dog who has gone into teeth-chattering hysterics the last several times we’ve been there walked calmly in and just looked beseechingly at us. He was a good dog of big heart and very little brain, and so while it was a sad start to the year, it’s also a relief to have that slog over with. The remaining dog is a little blue, but likes being the center of attention.

    Now, to lock myself up for the last four days of my holiday and finish section one of the book. I ordered Hermione Lee’s biography of Penelope Fitzgerald for inspiration — someone who didn’t start seriously publishing until she was in her 60s.

  55. coozledad said on January 2, 2014 at 12:26 pm

    Charlotte: Penelope was a goddess. The Bookshop is a little masterpiece.

  56. Deborah said on January 2, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    So sorry, Charlotte. Waiting it out day by day with our ever crankier 16 year old cat. Every time I load up on cat food and litter at Pet Smart I wonder if she’ll last long enough to use it up.

    Today is Little Bird’s 39th birthday. I can’t believe I have an almost 40 year old daughter. I was 24 when she was born, by the standards these days I was pretty young (and very naive).

    We spent the night at the casita in Abiquiu again, then one more time Friday night, my husband returns to Chicago on Sunday. He’s been here in Santa Fe nearly 3 weeks. He will be back in early Feb for a week. I won’t go back to Chicago until late March. Lordy is the weather going to be terrible there the next few days.

  57. Danny said on January 2, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    Danny, you would do the green eyed monster in me good if you would tell me that in June, July, and August it’s too damn hot to bike.

    David, about the best I can do for you is to tell you that the the housing prices here are absolutely ridiculous. We call it the “Sunshine Tax.” Oh, and state income tax is between 10-13% and sales tax is between 7.5-10%.

    Aside from that, I’ve been steering around our main office homophobe, and his (unwilling? who knows) Amen Corner today. Fox News must have had a new anti-gay package (so to speak)

    Brian, this is where a very good corporate policy, training and HR staff should or would normally come into play. Work is hard enough without people being made to feel uncomfortable. The workplace environment needs to be inclusive.

    Sherri, about August: Osage County. No I haven’t seen the play, but I could see how this would work very well as a play. The one thing I think the movie has which would trump just about any playhouse rendition is this… Julia Roberts’ character saying to Meryl Streep’s character: “Bitch, shut the fuck up and eat your fucking fish now.” There is something humorously incongruous there with these too well-known and adored actresses.

  58. LAMary said on January 2, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Where Danny is doesn’t get as stinkin hot as where I am. The San Diego area doesn’t get as cool in the winter or as hot in the summer, so I suspect you can ride your bike most of the time there.

  59. Dexter said on January 2, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    I have not attempted shoveling this snow yet…it’s blowing hard and drifting everywhere and all I want to do is continue to catch up on “Orange is the New Black” and “Lilyhammer” and then start in on “House of Cards.” My new Netflix is really nice to have around, and man, these two shows I am watching these days are really good.
    And now, it’s time to get a dirty job done: I know these two dogs have to dukie. :( The little Jack Russell is too short to find a pooping spot; I have to shovel one for her.

    A lot of my friends are having Keurig machine problems. I say, hey, what’s wrong with a French press? Best coffee ever.

  60. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2014 at 1:55 pm

    Oh Charlotte, I’m so sorry. I hope you can take solace that you gave him a good life and painless end.

    Dorothy, your DIL sounds like a keeper, thoughtful and kind.

    Snow I do not like. Just getting down the street was a challenge since we’re about dead last on the plow list. I’m fine driving through it, and my new little Honda CRV handles great, but it’s disconcerting watching all the idiots careening down the street sideways. Plus, I’ve a gimpy shoulder and even gimpier knee from two separate falls on ice and snow, so I’m also a paranoid walker.

    However, we’re only a month out from our next trip to Orlando, and thinking about that helps me get through.

  61. LAMary said on January 2, 2014 at 2:32 pm

    I have issues with Keurig machines. They create a lot of garbage. Every cup means some little plastic thing goes in the trash. I don’t like heating things in plastic so I don’t want to drink coffee that’s been brewed in plastic, and lastly, we drink a lot of coffee in our house. Making lots of individual cups is dumb. Even if it was just me drinking coffee, I would make what the coffee maker shows as four cups which would work out to a mug with breakfast and a travel mug para llevar.

  62. brian stouder said on January 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Julie – as fate would have it, and through absolutely no planning or foresight on my part – the house Pam and I bought is just down from firehouse 7…so our street always, always gets plowed and re-plowed.

    Charlotte – no fun about the pet. Last year our bunny reached the end of his life; it was mercifully fast – and yet still more affecting than I’d have guessed it would be.

    Then Pam and the girls came back from the pound with TWO kitty cats.

    We don’t have to walk them, but still – Ay yi yi!

  63. Judybusy said on January 2, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    Charlotte, I’m so sorry to hear about your dog. I echo Julie’s comments about being able to feel good you gave a good life to him! I was at a hospital recently for work and the hospital SW and I began trading pet stories. We both teared up remembering our beloved pets.

    You know, I’m not usually a whiner, but we’ve basically had three weeks of temps below zero (if you count the windchill, which totally counts!) with very few days (maybe 7) with good temps. I’m looking at -17 or so Monday morning, and that’s just the air temp. It came so early this year, so knowing this could go on for 8 more weeks is just irritating.

    I will get a good break from the 20th to the 30th, when we’ll be in Puerto Rico, so I really have no business whining. But it’s ghastly.

  64. nancy said on January 2, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Life would be more pleasant in Michigan if you’d keep your damn air in Minnesota. We’re supposed to get that cold stuff in another couple of days. (It’s now a balmy 16.) Seven inches of snow fell in the last day, so at least it’s pretty.

  65. brian stouder said on January 2, 2014 at 2:47 pm

    I really have no business whining.

    Judy-B – but that’s what we’re here for!

    I predict* that we will soon be hearing lots and lots from the Proprietress about Ford’s new aluminum truck.

    First, it’s a big update for the #1 selling thing at Ford; and Ford is THE American success/failure/success (etc) story…and indeed, the updated F-150 seems to have caught a bolt of lightening in the press… and the big auto-show is fast approaching.

    *actually, I’m hoping to see the official nn.c reaction to Ford’s latest homerun

  66. LAMary said on January 2, 2014 at 3:08 pm

    Brian, Costco has great cat food. I have three cats and feeding three little cats costs more than feeding my two big dogs. Costco. Trust me on this.

  67. brian stouder said on January 2, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    Mary – as fate would further have it, they just got done opening a big brand new Costco hereabouts.

    We’re not members yet, but this may be just enough impetus to get us in there…(we’re in at Sam’s Club, but the Walton clan increasingly bugs me…)

  68. LAMary said on January 2, 2014 at 4:12 pm

    Costco is a much better megawarehouse sort of place. They are consistently rated as one of the best companies to work for. They always pay above minimum wage and they have good benefits. They also have excellent paper towels, olive oil, granola, and real deals on store brand over the counter meds like ibuprofen or zantac type stuff. And toilet paper too.

  69. Deborah said on January 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    We were members of Costco for awhile in Chicago. We bought our TV there, Little Bird got her TV there too. The groceries were OK prices, my only complaint is that everything comes giant sized and we don’t have much storage space there at all. We have tons of storage in Santa Fe, good sized closets and a garage too. But there’s no Costco here.

  70. Deborah said on January 2, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    Holy Cow! I just read that it’s going to get down to -51 in Canada! Meanwhile it’s 42 here, 47 tomorrow and for the next 10 days we will have highs in the low 40s upper 30s. And of course almost everyday will be sunny. I love the weather here.

  71. Judybusy said on January 2, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    Nancy, what we need to do is get those darn Canadians to keep that arctic sh*t up there! Amazingly, it was sunny and 46 _above_ zero on Saturday. I was basking as I ran around and did errands before the big freeze hit again. Seems weeks ago now….Well, the good news in my life today is that the care home I cook for every month cancelled on me today, so I only have to get home and snuggle in. Plus, I did all the cooking for the meal yesterday so have delicious carne guisada, rice and flan waiting for me. I’ll drop some of the flan by at the house tomorrow.

    Brian, you know you’re just reinforcing bad behavior, don’t you?

  72. brian stouder said on January 2, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Judy-B – indeed!

    It’s like the old joke (think of any extra-sexy actor, here) – speaking of the crowd here:

    when we’re good, we’re VERY good – and when we’re bad, we’re better!

  73. Danny said on January 2, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    Costco bugs me, but alas I do have uses for it. One fun thing to do when shopping there is to buy the obligatory pile of groceries and toilet paper and then ask the checker if this is the correct amount of toilet paper for this amount of groceries.

  74. Julie Robinson said on January 2, 2014 at 5:36 pm

    At any mention of Costco I am obligated to say that our son got a job there and it is a very good place to work. The pay is far above anything else he’s had, they pay time and half on Sunday, he will soon qualify for health insurance as a part-timer, and the biggie–they have been willing to work around his rehearsal and performance schedules.

    A friend told me when his Sam’s membership is up he’s switching to Costco simply based on how they treat their employees. Yes, some of the packages are too big for us, but we do have storage space for non-perishables. Most of the food is organic too.

    And LAMary, agreed abut the Keurig, they seem very wasteful to me. But I’m such a penny pincher I wouldn’t get one even if they didn’t create a lot of unnecessary trash. I guess they’re cheaper than stopping at a coffee shop, so if that’s the alternative, okay. Everyone has their little area of luxuries, don’t they, so I’ll not judge.

  75. LAMary said on January 2, 2014 at 6:14 pm

    If you do any baking Costco has very good prices on nuts and chocolate chips, and on some kinds of produce the large size packages are better for us. 8.99 for a big box of oranges? Perfect. I probably eat three a day myself. The Costcos here in SoCal carry LaBrea Bakery bread at great prices and I’ll buy a two pack of some sort of bread and stick one loaf in the freezer. If you can split packages of stuff like pork chops or ground beef and freeze some for future use it works out great.

  76. MichaelG said on January 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Happy Birthday, Little Bird!

    Count me as a Costco liker as well. They have La Brea bread here although I prefer the Acme bread I get at Taylor’s Market. Costco actually has pretty good meat.

    I’m not a fan of Keurig coffee for all the above stated reasons. Also, you have to buy one of a very few brands. I prefer to get what I want and make one pot.

  77. Judybusy said on January 2, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    We will have quite a bit of storage space after the basement gets finished. I think a Costco membership is in our future. If I had a dollar for every time my partner has said she wants to buy toilet paper once a year, I could retire! Mary, she’s also a big baker, so good to hear about that stuff. Her mom got us a book, “Make the bread, buy the butter” about what makes sense to buy and what makes sense to make at home. So, on Tuesday, I came home to find she’d made bread, yogurt, a beef stew, and prepped for our own Cheezits. She’s also made bagels twice since Christmas. The book is also funny. She references Michael Pollan’s idea that you can eat as many French Fries (and other unhealthy treats)as you wish, you just have to make them yourself. Her rejoinder? “Michael Pollan, you underestimate me.”

  78. Basset said on January 2, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    Costco here, renewed our membership today. Just seems brighter and more inviting than Sam’s, where we were previously members for several years, and in our experience the store workers a much more helpful.

    No Costco wine or liquor for us, though, can’t sell it in grocery stores in Tennessee. Chattanooga’s Costco was built over the line in Georgia for just that reason.

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