Anne Notations

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Afternoon with Caroline

Sweet pouting lips, parted by breathing sighs;
Soft cheeks, warm-tinted as from tropic lands;
Framed with brown hair in shining silken strands,—
All fair, all pure, a sunbeam from the skies!

- From "Baby" by Elaine Goodale Eastman (1900)

And now, a quick visit to our Nostalgia Department:

Dad and Anne, winter 1952

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Wrapping up the year

Yes, kids, here comes the family slide show. Duck!

But first an update. We spent early December helping Andrés move back to Providence from the camp he worked at in the Berkshires, then finding and furnishing his first apartment. He's now living about a half-mile from us with two graduate students and an actor, and is working as an assistant teacher at a YMCA-run preschool a half-block from his house. He wants to go to community college next fall to get certification in early childhood ed. I'm really proud of him. I can see how good he is with children, and it moves me that a young man would make the choice to work in this relatively low-paying field because he enjoys it and, in his words, "I can be a role model for kids who maybe don't have fathers in their lives."

Onward to Melinda's quinceañera, which she celebrated twice. First, a dinner of Cornish game hens (her request, la) at home with family and friend Juliana, and a fabulous lemon mousse cake from Pastiche --

-- even if she couldn't quite blow all the candles out.

After dinner, the girls played Uno in the kitchen for a while.

The next day: Another cake, another party. Helloooo, Kitty!

Melinda, Bryn, Torey (foreground), Alana, and Kevin

Fast-forward to Christmas Day, when we went to 11:00 Mass, then came home to open presents... and Kevin won $110 from the lottery tickets Santa put in his stocking.

One giant step closer to an iPod!

The next day, we had the gang over at our house for Christmas presents and dinner. It was great to see my brother and his family from Mattapoisett:

Jessica and Karen; my bro John, and Tom.

Andrés brought his girlfriend, Dawn.

Jon and Leslie came...

with the very sleepy Caroline. Who needs elves when you can have a granddaughter for Christmas?

Andrés had never met his niece before, and he couldn't get enough of holding her.

Daisy searched under the tree for food, in vain.

For two days after our Christmas celebration, I slept nearly around the clock. Why do so many women, yours truly included, drive ourselves to exhaustion with Yuletide preparations? Write the cards. Deck the halls. Hang them ornaments on that tree. Bake those cookies, woman! Cook, cook, cook. And don't think you're done until you've completed the shopping Olympics and the gift-wrapping marathon. Christmas traditions: can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. One thing I will do earlier next year is get out the holiday sheet music and books. Everything was late and rushed this year, but I managed one night at the Baldwin spinet with Mom's tattered copies of "Silver Bells," "White Christmas," and the rest. It was utterly absorbing and peaceful to play and sing those songs of comfort and joy.

On the 30th we drove up to New Hampshire, where Kevin's team was playing in a hockey tournament. En route we passed this garbage truck with a Massachusetts accent:

Waterville Valley is a sort of bowl surrounded by mountains, a skier's paradise. When we arrived in the afternoon, the sun was already setting and clouds had draped themselves over the slopes.

We stayed at this inn:

A short walk away was the fake village, yearning to be picturesque.

The hockey rink was at the end of a row of shops. Kevin has been having a growth spurt lately, and his skating and skills have improved dramatically. He's beginning to look like the real thing. In three games, he scored a goal and several assists. I was thrilled!

Kevin, second from left, charging the opposing goal

He shoots!

Big guy on ice

We rang in New Year's Eve with the other hockey families at a buffet in the lodge, and enjoyed two fireworks shows. Outside it was crystalline and cold without a breath of wind.

2006 is a comfortably roundish-looking number, and I've been doing my best to write it instead of 2005 on checks these past two weeks. It's a stretch, since occasionally I find myself still starting to write "19--" for the year. Thank goodness I only have to change millennia once in my life.

Our own personal New Year's Baby makes her one-month appearance. (You know I can't resist.)


Happy 19-- , err, I mean 2006 to all my friends and fellow bloggers!

Saturday, January 07, 2006


Probably it's my own fault that I've had it up to HERE with the whole concept of New Year's Resolutions. Every January we pluckily launch ourselves at yet another mountain of self-improvement goals, yet, despite the sincerity of our proclamations about weight loss, exercise, weekly church attendance, or what have you, within weeks if not days we slide back into the same old same old. And we hate ourselves for it -- or, at any rate, I do. Because I almost always fail.

How banal are most resolutions, anyway?! And why should I set myself up for failure yet again?

A few years ago I was similarly bemused about the annual custom of giving up something for Lent. "Something" always seemed to be food, along the lines of chocolate, pizza, or ice cream. Forgoing Reese's peanut butter cups may be healthy, but as a sacrifice marking the holiest season of the Christian faith, it seemed inane. So instead of giving up a treat, I decided to adopt a specific behavior for Lent, something hard that might also make me a better person: I resolved to think a generous or positive thought every time I felt like criticizing or judging someone. Since I tend to be snarky by nature, this was a challenge. Yet I didn't do a bad job of it, and the Pollyanna reflex has stuck to some extent. I dare say it has even made me a bit nicer and happier.

At tonight I found an article by Rabbi Joseph Telushkin on the concept of making ethical resolutions. "How meaningful can your life be if your goodness is not expanding?" he asks. No argument here. Rabbi Telushkin mentions several specific ethical resolutions, and this one strikes a chord: abstain from complaining. "Just as on a fast day you refrain from eating for 24 hours," says Telushkin, "during a complaining fast you refrain from complaining about anything for a full day."

Can I do that? It won't come naturally, but I'll give it a try. It won't be so much a resolution as an earnest intention. I'll start tomorrow.

Ow. It hurts already!