I’ve eaten some truly magnificent meals in my life. One was on a trip to Holland, at a tiny place in Delft, where the lunches had been cited in Bon Appetit. It was a simple meal of fried chicken and potato salad, which were delicious, but it was the meal's start and finish that blew me away (cranberry pate and homemade ice cream and sorbet: plum and grape.) Another meal was in a restaurant in San Francisco, where the Dover sole I ate inspired me to sing. In New Orleans one year I ate blackened tuna at K-Paul's that had me seriously consider relocation.
And now, a new dinner for the list, in Massachusetts.
My friend Donna and I are using Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project, to start a happiness group of our own. One of the things that Grecthen recommends you do is choose a word to fous on as your theme for the year. There’s also a campaign, #oneword2016, that suggests you pick one word and focus upon it for the year, as well.
Flourish. I could also use thrive, but I like that flourish is both a noun and a verb and in one of its noun meanings means 'a fanfare played by brass instruments'.
I drink a lot of coffee, so I have a fair number of coffee mugs, I go through phases with favorite mugs. Sometimes it’s one of the two matching firecracker mug I bought at Starbucks (I always drink from the red one and my husband always drinks from the blue); sometimes it’s the ‘Mom Rocks’ mug Lucy got me for Christmas one year; lately, it’s this one: ‘Keep Calm and Carry On.’
I like this mug because it’s large and red and says this. Mostly I love it because it reminds me of my Grandmother Johnson., Grammy T to us. (The T was for her favorite beverage.) She was English. She was born in Guildford-Surrey, to a large family named Marshall. I never knew much about her family, except that she had a lot of sisters, many of whom died young from diabetes.
She was working as a waitress in a tea shop in London when she met my grandfather, John Johnson. He was an American who felt strongly that the US should be in WW I, so he enlisted in the Canadian Army. They met, fell in love, and married while he was stationed in England, and my Uncle Roy was born when my grandfather was in France. According to family legend, the soldiers called from trench to trench, “Private John Johnson, you have a son, Roy Albert, born…”
A lovely story.
After the war ended, the couple settled somewhere in Canada, which was fortunate, because my grandmother developed diabetes and was able to receive treatment in the country where they first developed injectable insulin. It saved her life.
She had two more children (my mother the youngest) and was known for her no nonsense ways, her love of baseball, corn on the cob, and Tarzan, and for rarely crying. I was told that she cried when she heard that the Germans had bombed Coventry, and then wiped her face and quickly went back to doing whatever chore occupied her at the time.
She had no patience with excessive displays of sentiment. “Pull your socks up,” she would say to me if I had dissolved into tears—no matter what the cause of the tears. She would have known the “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan from WWII well — she wrote letters to her friends and relatives during the war.
Right now, I am concentrating on keeping my own socks up. And when I drink coffee from this mug, I can see Grammy T’s approving nod, which makes the coffee better.
It is New Year’s morning. Quiet. All of my family is sleeping and there appear to be no cars on the road. It is the kind of hush where I get up to check the houses nearby for lights, because it’s so peaceful that I cannot believe it’s a normal day. Everyone in the neighborhood must have partied hearty last night. Not us. We had our traditional Chinese food and then we watched the ‘Mr. Holmes’ film with Ian McKellan and Laura Linney that I got for Christmas. My daughter and I share a passionate like of Sherlock Holmes, although I must say that I find the writing of Arthur Conan Doyle difficult. It’s probably because I was scared at an early age by The Hounds of the Baskersvilles and never quite got over it. But I love the character of Holmes and I revel in the portrayals of him, particularly the Benedict Cumberbatch version.
My New Year’s Resolutions are small and doable: write daily and take better care of myself. The how-tos I will keep private, as they are both boring and trivial: no one wants to hear about how my diet or how many steps I take daily. My writing practice interests no one but myself. I am surprised at how much attention writing practices get, though. How could anyone else's writing practices suit me? My friend Edith used to sit in her basement with a manual typewriter, all morning, to write. She found the basement the least distracting place to do it, but the thought of her writing there, when she had such an enormous house made me laugh. Edith’s zen practice, I guess. I could never write in our basement. It's such an old basement that I would write everything with a horror tinge to it. (I can easily imagine getting locked into the coal room by a grinning maniac.) But I do admit that I had my built-in desk placed to face away from the windows.
One other thing before I forget: I am going to live a Calibri-free year. I need to change my default fonts in email. I hate that font. Doesn’t make much sense to hate a font, but I do. I hate all sans serfi fonts, but Calibri especially. More than Arial? I don’t know. But it’s lovely that I can change it. Garamond, here I come.
Or should I use Baskerville? That's a lovely font, too.
Happy New Year. May your life be filled with serif fonts.
I’m back in the saddle again — writing wise, that is, so it’s time to update this blog. (I’ve also changed the template, but I am not totally happy with it yet. Expect more changes in this area.)
I went looking to find the origin of ‘back in the saddle again’ and I discovered that it was originally applied to cowboys and jockeys returning to work after injury, and then became applied more broadly to anyone returning to work after an injury or absence.
I looked up its meaning online and was surprised to discover that according to the Urban Dictionary it also means “when you are back to doing what you do best.”
I like that idea.
I don’t know if writing is what I do best: I do know it is what I long to do best. I constantly struggle