New Year’s Reflections, 2008

Okay, since we’re asking questions, let’s reflect a little on the year ending and the year ahead. One word answers are optional:

1. What did you do in 2008 that you’d never done before?
2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
4. Did anyone close to you die?
5. What countries did you visit?
6. What would you like to have in 2009 that you lacked in 2008?
7. What dates from 2008 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
9. What was your biggest failure?
10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
11. What was the best thing you bought?
12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
14. Where did most of your money go?
15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
16. What song will always remind you of 2008?
17. Compared to this time last year, are you:a) happier or sadder? b) thinner or fatter? c) richer or poorer?
18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
20. How will you be spending Christmas?
21. Did you fall in love in 2008?
22. How many one-night stands?
23. What was your favorite TV program?
24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
25. What was the best book you read?
26. What was your greatest musical discovery?
27. What did you want and get?
28. What did you want and not get?
29. What was your favorite film of this year?
30. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2008?
33. What kept you sane?
34. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
35. What political issue stirred you the most?
36. Who did you miss?
37. Who was the best new person you met?
38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2008.
39. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.

via Reassigned Time

My answers after the jump…

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Just One Word

Answer these questions using only one word each:

Where is your mobile phone? Charging
Where is your significant other? Kitchen
Your hair color? Graying
Your mother? Widowed
Your father? Deceased
Your favorite thing? Cheese
Your dream last night? Indistinct
Your dream goal? Peace
The room you’re in? Living
Your hobby? Cooking
Your fear? Failure
Where do you want to be in 6 years? Alive
Where were you last night? Home
What you’re not? Comfortable
One of your wish-list items? Talent
Where you grew up? Auburn
The last thing you did? Drive
What are you wearing? Flannel
Your TV? Off
Your pets? Cats!
Your computer? On
Your mood? Restless
Missing someone? Always
Your car? Jeep
Something you’re not wearing? Jewelry
Favorite shop? Cheese
Your summer? Short
Love someone? Yes
Your favorite color? Green
When is the last time you laughed? Yesterday
When is the last time you cried? Lately

via Cynical

From the Bookshelf – Christmas 2008, Part 1

liberty“Last year’s Lake Wobegon Fourth of July (Delivery Day) was glory itself, sunny and not too hot, flags flying, drummers drumming, scores of high-stepping horses, smart marching units in perfect cadence, and Ben Franklin, Sacajawea, Ulysses S. Grant, Babe Ruth, Amelia Earhart, and Elvis marching arm in arm along with Miss Liberty majestic in seven-pointed crown and wielding her torch like a big fat baton, plus the Leaping Lutherans parachute team, the Betsy Ross Blanket Toss, a battery of cannons belching flame boomboomboom from the crest of Adams Hill and Paul Revere galloping into town to cry out the news that these States are now Independent, God Bless Us All, and Much Much More, all in all a beautiful occasion in honor of America, and the only sour note was that so few in lake Wobegon appreciated how truly glorious it all was, since Wobegonians as a rule consider it bad luck to be joyful, no matter Scripture might say on the subject, and so in the swirl of color and music and costumes and grandeur you could hear people complain about the high cost of gasoline and shortage of rainfall and what in God’s Name were they going to do with the leftover food.” 

So might begin another installment of Garrison Keillor‘s “News from Lake Wobegon” on A Prairie Home Companion.  And it is, sort of.  Only darker.  Liberty (Viking, 2008) is the latest of Keillor’s Lake Wobegon novels.  It weaves together the familiar themes and characters of small-town life, centering on Lake Wobegon’s annual Fourth of July celebration and its main character’s delayed mid-life crisis.  Unlike the radio monologues, Liberty includes a fair amount of sex, or at least musing about it, and gets into despair, infidelity, depression, and the darker side of life in a small town, Midwestern or otherwise.

In the end, Liberty is not a humorous book so much as a wry tale about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Life is fleeting, liberty is an illusion, and the pursuit of happiness can be more trouble than it’s worth.  A very Wobegonian book in its outlook.

Liberty was one of three books I got for Christmast this year, and the first one I picked up to read.  Next up is Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin.

Ghost of Christmas Eve (Repast)


Every family has its holiday traditions – places they go, things they do, the foods they eat.  Since moving back to Maine in 1997 we have always had Christmas Eve at home and, for the last few years, have made a point of having special cheeses, pâtés or smoked seafood, breads, fruit and something festive to drink (some kind of sparkler for the girls, and either a nice wine or a seasonal ale for us). Though the Portland Public Market closed a couple of years ago there are still a few places to go for specialty food items – Freeport Cheese and Wine, Browne Trading Company, Public Market House (where some of the former public market’s vendors went), and The Cheese Iron to name some within a reasonable distance.

I’d heard about The Cheese Iron from a friend, read about it in the paper, and visited the web site, but hadn’t been there yet.  Partly to finish my Christmas shopping, partly to find things for Christmas Eve, our youngest and I made our way there and were not disappointed.  Vincent, one of the owners, was very friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable.  He insisted we try before buying (what a sacrifice!) the Cabot Clothbound Cheddar, Bayley Hazen Blue, and the pâté de campagne before wrapping some up for us.  With a range of products similar to Freeport Cheese and Wine, but with more emphasis on cheese (hence the name, I guess), and the service, I think we’ll be visiting The Cheese Iron again.

The Second Day of Christmas


A belated Merry Christmas everyone!  Well, belated only in the sense that I didn’t post yesterday, nor have I made mention of the holiday since my Black Friday report.  Having spent nearly the last four weeks observing Advent, and gradually decorating the house, sending out cards, doing the Christmas shopping (like many, not as much as last year, but that’s not all a bad thing), I can’t deal with Christmas being over all in one day.  So we’ll stay in this mode until New Year’s, then gradually take Christmas down and pack it away until next year.

A Colonial Christmas

georgewashingtoncolonialsYou might remember this last April our eldest daughter and I took a trip to visit a number of universities in the Washington and New York areas. Last month she applied early decision to the Elliot School of International Affairs at George Washington University. The tension level continued to rise, awaiting the mid-December decision date.

Last week she told us that admissions decisions would be posted after 5 p.m. Wednesday night. She was working until 8, so we had to go a few more hours not knowing. I picked her up at work, and nothing was said about it. Shortly after we got home, she went to the computer and I heard a trembling voice with tears, and joy, and laughter, “I got in! Omigodomigodomigod!”

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Black Friday 2008 – $27,000 and Counting


So, we did our part for retailers, for the American auto industry, and for the state and local budgets.  I’m not sure if it counts toward the Black Friday numbers, but along with stocking stuffers we got something to stuff the stockings in at our local Jeep dealer.  First, ours is not a Rubicon.  Second, there is not (yet) snow on the ground in southern Maine.  But, yes, today we bid farewell to the Suburban.  After five and a half years, nearly 80,000 miles (and, therefore, over 5,700 gallons of gasoline), we have sent our gashog to the shelter in hopes of finding a good home for its final years.  In its place we have a 2008 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited X much like the vehicle pictured, one of Consumer Reports’ eleven Worst Cars of 2008.

It’s still not “great” on gas, but if we drive it as much over the next five and a half years as we did the Suburban we will have used over 25 percent less gasoline than the last five and a half.  The Suburban met our needs then; now I hope the Wrangler will meet our (my) needs as they are.  Five or ten years from now we could be in position where one car is all we need and can consider something even smaller (though the Wrangler Unlimited is surprisingly not really any bigger than the Escape we bought at the end of July).  Hopefully automotive technology and fuel efficiency will have taken another quantum leap by then.

As for its “worst car” status, there’s no question the Wrangler isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it is what it claims to be.  And for now, it’s what meets our needs, even if it more than exceeds them in some areas, and doesn’t quite meet them in others.